Linden steps down as union president
WHISTLER, British Columbia -- Trevor Linden said he will not seek re-election as president of the NHL players' association, and a group of players continued to press for Ted Saskin to be removed as executive director at the start of the union's summer meetings Tuesday.
"I think it's important for some of the good young people that we have ... to step forward and assume some of the responsibility," said the 36-year-old Linden, a Vancouver Canucks forward who took over as president in 1998. "We've got some quality people there and I'm confident they'll step forward."
The players' association's new executive committee was expected to be announced Wednesday.
The union also learned Tuesday that the National Labor Relations Board in the United States issued a charge against the NHLPA for failure to disclose information to a member.
Saskin called the labor board's announcement, "a non-issue" involving confidential letters. Originally the board was asked to review 11 complaints but upheld only one.
Linden said a group of players -- led by Detroit Red Wings defenseman Chris Chelios and retired player Trent Klatt -- were trying to oust Saskin, who took over after Bob Goodenow stepped down following the end of the lockout last year.
"I'm not sure that Chris wants closure," Linden said. "I think he wants a change of leadership. I don't think that is productive for our membership at all."
Linden is frustrated by the internal squabbling that involves about 30 percent of the league's 700-plus players.
"It's detrimental to our membership," he said. "I think the whole issue at the National Labor Relations Board has been a bit of a witch hunt and it's not helping our members.
"I think in this type of deal we need to put every effort into making our game great and building revenues and doing a good job with our game. This is a total distraction from it."
Chelios and others believe Saskin was improperly hired to succeed Goodenow.
"To become unified there has to be trust," said Chelios, who didn't join the other union members in a golf tournament Tuesday. "There are a lot of unanswered questions. Basically I've tried to get information for the past year and have not been able to. A lot of players are not aware of what happened. The guys who are aware, they want some answers."
Chelios said the rift within the union would be repaired if Saskin resigned from his position.
"That would resolve it in a minute," he said. "If there was new leadership and Ted was to step down, then I guess that would be the easiest way to make this come to a closure."
About 50 players are attending the three days of meetings. They gathered Tuesday night to discuss the circumstances of Saskin's hiring. Goodenow was originally expected to speak but declined when he learned Saskin would also attend.
Linden and Saskin have been credited for ending the lockout which wiped out the 2004-05 season and resulted in the new collective bargaining agreement.
As difficult as the process was, Linden said it was a learning experience.
"To be involved in this negotiation was a real experience and something I'll never forget," Linden said. "It's a real interesting position to be in and I learned a lot and I wouldn't change a thing."
Chelios praised Linden's efforts.
"Even though I don't see eye to eye with Trevor or some of the other committee members, I still appreciate everything they have done," he said. "I know it was a hard position to be in."
In its decision, the NLRB concluded that the union's failure to supply the players with certain "side letters" violated the labor act.
Saskin said the letters are confidential.
"I've reviewed all of these letters with the players," he said. "Not one player can think of any reason why they should be public. I am very confident this is a complete non-issue."
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press
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