Shake up at Player's Association

David W. Unkle— For SLAM! Sports

, Last Updated: 3:44 PM ET

PHILADELPHIA—If union boss Ted Saskin is ousted during tonight’s conference call with the 30 player representatives and the six-member executive committee of the NHL Players’ Association, a familiar face could wind up as executive director of the embattled organization.

Rumours circulated late Saturday that player-agent Steve Bartlett is considered to be the front-runner should Saskin be forced out through a majority vote, a move that appears to have gained momentum in recent weeks.

Reached in his Rochester office on Sunday morning, Bartlett felt that it was “premature to speculate on the future of Ted Saskin” and therefore any future role he may play with the NHLPA.

Bartlett was the runner-up to Bob Goodenow when the NHLPA went searching for a replacement for Alan Eagleson in 1991. Less than three years later, Bartlett authored the controversial manuscript entitled, “Contract Negotiations and Salary Arbitration in the NHL—An Agent’s View.” In that document, Bartlett wrote that one of the major elements contributing to salary escalation is the “public disclosure of player compensation.”

Bartlett, an outspoken critic of salary arbitration and free-agency, has represented NHL players since 1984. He became a NHLPA-certified agent in 1996.

An accountant, Bartlett was graduated from the University of Rochester in 1972 with a bachelor’s degree in business.

Along with Deputy NHL Commissioner Bill Daly, Saskin was the architect of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Following Goodenow’s resignation on July 28, 2005, Saskin replaced his former boss through what some NHLPA members called “improper elections.”

Since that time, the cat-like Saskin has used up a few lives dodging legal challenges brought on by disgruntled union members, but this time Saskin has upped the heat with reports of tampering with the e-mail server used by NHLPA members.

Saskin told the Canadian Press last week that he plans to “address the board on Sunday night and the board will learn that Bob Goodenow had instructed NHLPA employees to review player e-mail accounts and this occurred during the lockout and I was not aware of this until much later.”

Which begs the questions, how much later and what did you do when you did find out?

David Unkle can be reached at: topcatsports@canoemail.com


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