Ted Saskin is down to his final hours.
The executive board of the NHL Players Association and the representatives will meet again tomorrow by conference call. It's believed they've already asked the embattled executive director to resign.
But Saskin, who the players placed on paid leave along with senior director Ken Kim last week, isn't expected to bow out quietly.
Sources say Saskin has promised a legal battle. That means the players will likely be forced to hire independent legal counsel to look into allegations Saskin was reading player e-mails and to ensure the union has just cause to fire the man who replaced Bob Goodenow after the 2004-05 lockout.
"The players want to make sure this time they do everything right," said a high-profile agent.
"They acted too hastily in hiring Saskin and they don't want to make that mistake again in firing him. They want to make sure this is done right, that proper protocol is followed, that they have just cause and that they adhere to the constitution of the union."
Ideally, the players want to avoid paying Saskin -- who is making $1.9 million a year -- a $3-million buyout he's owed if his contract is terminated.
OFF THE GLASS:
With the Coyotes officially out of the playoffs, Wayne Gretzky can expect a call from Team Canada GM Steve Yzerman. Before Yzerman offers either St. Louis coach Andy Murray or Columbus boss Ken Hitchcock a chance to coach Canada at the world championships in Moscow next month, the Detroit Red Wings legend is expected to give Gretzky a chance to say yes or no to the job. Gretzky is expected to be behind the bench at the Olympics in 2010 in Vancouver and coaching at the world championships would be a chance for him to get a first-hand look from behind the bench ... A coach to keep an eye on this summer: Rochester Amerks' bench boss Randy Cunneyworth, who is having a tremendous year with the AHL affiliate for Florida and Buffalo. While he'd like to get a shot as an NHL coach, there might not be many openings. Cunneyworth, a former Senators captain, wouldn't be afraid to take an assistant's job. It's believed if the Dallas Stars don't have playoff success, GM Doug Armstrong might fire Dave Tippett because the heat is being turned up by owner Tom Hicks to have success ... The candidates are already lining up because it's believed Columbus president/GM Doug MacLean will be let go at the end of the season. The Jackets haven't progressed as expected and won't make the playoffs.
RUMOURS DU JOUR:
Chicago GM Dale Tallon is expected to make big changes this summer. Getting RW Martin Havlat from Ottawa wasn't enough -- the Blackhawks need to put some talent around him. While the Hawks are trying to keep C Michal Handzus from going to unrestricted free agency this summer, there's also talk the club will be free-agent shopping. The Hawks could make a pitch for Buffalo C Daniel Briere and Islanders LW Ryan Smyth. The Hawks won't be alone in their pursuit of Briere. The Flyers will be one of the other clubs very interested ... The Stars haven't had any discussions with LW Ladislav Nagy since he was acquired from Phoenix for a No. 1 pick. Don't be surprised if several teams -- including Detroit, Boston and Montreal -- try to sign Nagy ... Before dealing Smyth to the Isles, the Oilers tried to move D Steve Staios so they could clear out his $1.615-million salary.