These aren’t the golden days for the unions representing North America’s professional athletes. The NFLPA has long suffered under the stewardship of Gene Upshaw, Billy Hunter raised nary a peep when David Stern imposed a dress code, and we’ve just witnessed a historic capitulation on the part of Donald Fehr and Gene Orza in the face of steroid-hysteria. But all of the above pale in comparison to the heavy shit going down with the NHL Players Association — getting their ass kicked over the lockout was apparently just the tip of the iceberg, as Eric at Off-Wing Opinion spells out for you.
A complaint by the NHL Players’ Association is expected to be heard today by the National Labor Relations Board in Washington, D.C., according to Wild goalie Dwayne Roloson.
The complaint, which Roloson says is signed by 27 players, including five from the Wild, alleges that the association violated its own constitution by the manner it fired former union boss Bob Goodenow and hired successor Ted Saskin.
The complaint, which was filed in late September and signed by the Wild’s Roloson, Brian Rolston, Willie Mitchell, Andrei Zyuzin and Andrei Nazarov — among other notable NHLers including Chris Chelios, Brian Leetch and Eric Lindros — also claims the union has improperly spent dues (Saskin is traveling from team to team campaigning for the job) and that the union leadership is denying requests for information by its members.
Players are alleging the NHLPA’s constitution was not followed when Saskin was unilaterally hired the same day Goodenow was fired without conducting a thorough outside search.
Also, players are alleging union members weren’t consulted when NHLPA President Trevor Linden structured Saskin’s $2.1 million annual salary.
“There was a vote after the fact, but was there a secret ballot?” Roloson said. “By no means. Now they’re trying to do a secret ballot, but that is far from secret, too. And then you’ve got Ted going around lobbying [to keep his job] to every other team in the league.
More than 60 dissidents have hired well-known New York labor lawyer Bob Lanza to represent them at today’s hearing. According to several players, the NHLPA has denied these dissenters access to the message boards on the NHLPA’s private website.
In response, former Gophers and North Stars winger Trent Klatt, who retired in September after 14 NHL seasons, is updating NHLPA members on his own site, www.trentklatt.com: “The Homepage of the Quest for NHLPA Democracy.”
On the site, Klatt announced the Saturday resignation of union official Steve Larmer, the former Blackhawks and Rangers forward, by posting a scathing letter Larmer sent to Saskin.
Larmer, claiming the appointment of Saskin was indeed improper according to the constitution and bylaws, wrote, “I am resigning because this organization has taken a giant step backwards, back to the [controversial] days of [Alan] Eagleson where a select few made decisions for the group.”