Union battle to stay off ice

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:15 AM ET

VANCOUVER -- After tossing darts long-distance since the end of the lockout, Canucks' Trevor Linden and four of his union executive's biggest critics on the Maple Leafs will be within shouting distance the next few days.

But will the president of the National Hockey League Players Association and the Leafs rebels use the Toronto-Vancouver game tomorrow to air their differences? And could any of the rancour regarding the players capitulation on the salary cap, or Linden's controversial support role in Ted Saskin's hiring as new union executive director, carry over to the ice?

The Leafs seek two points tomorrow night and nothing else, assure Tie Domi and Bryan McCabe. Just don't look for a group hug with Linden in Stanley Park.

TIME AND PLACE

"I think there will be a day obviously off the ice when we'll have a conversation," Domi said. "There will be a time and a place to do that."

It just won't be now, while the National Labour Relations Board in the United States still is looking into Saskin's hiring. Two Leafs, Eric Lindros and Ed Belfour, were among the 27 names on the NLRB complaint, organized by retired NHLer Trent Klatt and alleging 'illegal activities.'

Saskin originally was confirmed during a tension-filled executive committee conference call in the summer that wrapped up at 2 a.m.

With Saskin and Linden under pressure for a review, a full union vote was conducted and Saskin was confirmed by 24 of 28 ballots by the committee last month.

But it is believed that clubs such as the Leafs and Detroit Red Wings refused to vote in protest. A full vote would have included 37 ballots, made up of 30 player representatives and seven executive committee members.

McCabe is Toronto's player rep.

"I have nothing to say," he insisted when asked about Linden. "What happened has happened. I don't agree with a lot of stuff that went on, but I won't make a big issue of it now. We're all still friends."

But Domi said some bitterness remains among pro and anti-Saskin supporters at ice level.

"There are guys I've heard of who've (had strong words) throughout the year," he said. "Sometimes it happens. But what's said on the ice should stay between the players and not be filtered through the media."

McCabe agreed.

"What's on the ice is on the ice and it stays there," he insisted.

Linden, who has been reluctant to speak about the NLRB matter, did not attend a Canucks optional skate yesterday following their 4-3 win over the Calgary Flames on Saturday.


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