Chelios stirs the pot

DAVID W. UNKLE -- Special to SLAM! Sports

, Last Updated: 2:06 PM ET

VOORHEES, N.J. -- The rift between the players and NHL Players' Association (NHLPA) Executive Director and general counsel Ted Saskin continues to widen as the regular season winds down and the Stanley Cup playoffs begins.

Leading the way is Detroit Red Wings' defenceman Chris Chelios, who told The Toronto Sun this week that "14 teams do not support Ted and want him to resign and it's just a matter of time before we get the necessary signatures."

Saskin was not immediately available for comment, but a source in the NHLPA's Toronto office confirmed Chelios is circulating a petition, seeking support of the Executive Board to launch an examination into the affairs of the Players' Association.

The petition has yet to reach the Philadelphia Flyers, but two of their veterans had differing views on the situation.

Defenceman Eric Desjardins initially replied with a "no comment," but later added "I haven't heard and I don't want to hear about it."

"That should be kept internally and I don't understand why they go public with that stuff," said Desjardins.

"I actually talked to (Chelios) at the Olympics and I knew that he was going to be doing this," said Flyers' captain Derian Hatcher, who is waiting for his former teammate to call him to "make sure that everyone (on the Flyers) knows about it."

Central to Chelios's issue with Saskin is the discovery of 30 separate agreements to the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) between the NHL and the NHLPA, that the players were not informed of and therefore could not put to a vote.

"(Chelios) thinks a lot of what is going on is a lot like, and I don't want to refer to (Saskin) like that, but a lot like what happened with executives before," a reference to deposed leader Alan Eagleson.

One such agreement relates to an adjustment of the salary cap, from an estimated floor of $30 million to a ceiling of $46 million, to $27 million and $43 million, respectively.

According to Chelios, lowering the upper end of the cap would eliminate $90 million in player salary.

"(Chelios) has been through a lot in his 20-some years (in the NHL) and he's seen a lot," said Hatcher. "He feels a certain way and he just wants to see it be done right."

"I know Chelly really well and I know that he's not in this for him. He wants nothing out of this. Trust me. I know Trent Klatt; these guys aren't selfish people and they want nothing out of this."

The Chelios-Klatt team has been down this road before. On Jan. 23, 2006 the U.S. Department of Labor notified the NHLPA that complaints filed by Chelios and Klatt, challenging the legality of the CBA ratification process, the departure of Bob Goodenow, the hiring of Saskin and the NHLPA's practice of filing its reports in Canada, were dismissed completely and without merit.

Desjardins, for one, would prefer to focus his energies on the Flyers' pursuit of the Atlantic Division crown.

"You don't need that stuff (now)," said Desjardins, "we'll have the whole summer to deal with that."

Hatcher disagreed.

"There is never a good time. If you say, 'we'll wait until the summer, then it's summer and everyone's gone and you can't get a hold of anyone.

"I think it's something that (Chelios) wants to resolve. Is there ever a good time? It's just one of those things, (besides) every team is going to be going through this, so it's the same."

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