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Linden steps down as union president

7/12/2006 - NHL

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.

ALT HERE Linden

"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.

ALT HERE Chelios

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."