Ted Saskin is on thin ice with the NHL Players' Association.
The recently appointed executive director could be forced to resign as early as this week after a movement by NHLPA VP Trent Klatt to review the way the executive committee decided to hire Saskin and award him with a six-year, $12.25-million US contract.
Not only has Klatt hired former NBA Players' Association lawyer Bob Lanza to act as outside counsel, he has requested a face-to-face meeting with Saskin in a series of e-mails sent to NHL players last week.
While Klatt couldn't be reached for comment yesterday, a copy of an e-mail exchange with Saskin, that has been distributed to some media, indicates the L.A. Kings winger could launch legal action over Saskin's hiring.
UPSET WITH PROCESS
Klatt said in the e-mails he was upset with a five-hour conference call on Aug. 31 where the players first voted to hold off on installing Saskin as the executive director. But, after urging from NHLPA president Trevor Linden, decided to go ahead with it.
"I'm sure many of you may ask yourself, 'Why is Trent doing this?' Many of you are also hearing scare tactics from our leadership that a 'few agents' are driving this," Klatt wrote.
"Guys, I can tell you that I am driving this because I have a responsibility to you and I have some concerns about our union. I do not like being bullied and the conference call last Wednesday (Aug. 31) is evidence of why I am standing up and educating the players."
Klatt said in an e-mail to Saskin he wants to make sure the process to hire an executive director is followed properly.
"This has never been about you, but about the way things are done," wrote Klatt. "Seeking counsel was not going outside but rather was independent advice (from the NHLPA) which I believe is valuable after all of the Kool-Aid we have had in the past year."
Saskin said he was willing to discuss matters with Klatt and Lanza in a conference call, but wouldn't agree to get together yesterday in New York because of a prior commitment.
"Input from the player reps and direction from the executive committee are the right requirements for a player-run union and I am determined to make whatever changes are necessary to continue and enhance the democratic input of players in our union," Saskin wrote in an e-mail to Klatt.