NHLPA elects interim committee, but no president
WHISTLER, British Columbia -- The NHL Players' Association elected a five-member interim executive committee Wednesday, but decided against picking a replacement for outgoing president Trevor Linden.
Two European executive committee members also will be elected in early August during meetings in Stockholm, Sweden.
Linden, the union president since 1998, announced Tuesday during the group's three-day meeting that he would not seek re-election. The Vancouver forward became frustrated by internal squabbling that involved 30 percent of the NHL's 700-plus players.
He said a group led by Detroit defenseman Chris Chelios and retired player Trent Klatt was still trying to oust executive director Ted Saskin, who took over for Bob Goodenow shortly after the lockout ended last year.
The decision to pick an interim board was a move designed to follow the union's constitution and appease members who questioned the way things were done in the past. An interim president will be elected in early August from the seven executive committee members.
"I'm never satisfied," Chelios said. "But this is positive. It's a step in the right direction. Only time will tell what's going to happen. We want closure.
"I love the fact that we're going to start from scratch."
The 50 players in attendance held a late-night meeting Tuesday, and members of the dissenting group had their chance to express concerns over Saskin's hiring. The session dragged on into Wednesday morning.
"It was a good discussion," Linden said. "I think it was a big step to getting on the right track. For the guys in that room they feel like they can sense closure."
A vote on whether the new committee will become permanent will be held later this year once all 30 NHL teams selected player representatives. The player reps will vote to ratify the committee.
The new members include, Kevyn Adams of the Carolina Hurricanes, Alyn McCauley of the Los Angeles Kings, Wade Redden of the Ottawa Senators, Mathieu Schneider of the Detroit Red Wings and Marty Turco of the Dallas Stars.
"What we've concluded made the most sense, and this is what all the guys here decided made the most sense, so that's why we are doing it that way," Saskin said Wednesday, the final day of the annual meeting.
In the past, the union president and executive committee were elected at the summer meeting. Some players had been concerned that the election occurred without proper input from all the player representatives and didn't follow the union constitution.
Former player Stu Grimson, the NHLPA associate counsel, formed a committee to revise and update the union's constitution.
"We want to learn from the past, continue to grow as an association and to move in a better direction," Adams said. "I think this is a good situation with the guys where we can work together and start to really make this game great."
Linden and Saskin were key participants in brokering the new collective bargaining agreement that ended the season-long lockout.
Saskin, the union's chief negotiator, was promoted from his position as senior director last July following a conference call vote by player reps and executive committee members after Goodenow stepped down.
Goodenow resigned just one week after the union overwhelmingly approved to end a 301-day lockout by agreeing to a deal that went against everything he stood for -- including accepting a salary cap and linking it to league revenues.
Goodenow was originally expected to address Tuesday's meeting but declined when he learned Saskin would attend.
"What I was most encouraged about was the overwhelming consensus from the membership that we need to move forward in a productive fashion, and we've taken steps in that direction," Saskin said. "I'd love to have 700 guys on my side but that's not realistic at times."
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press
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