The 2005-06 NHL season has been special for fans. Not only has their beloved game returned after a one year hiatus, but the quality of the on ice play has been very entertaining. We finally can finally see superstars like Jaromir Jagr, Peter Forsberg, Joe Sakic and Dany Heatley at their best. But the National Hockey League Player Association (NHLPA) is not in very good shape. Ever since the deal was signed and Bob Goodenow was replaced by Ted Saskin, the NHLPA has seen its fair share of infighting
and dissention amongst the ranks. The most recent shoe to drop was the resignation of former NHLer Steve Larmer from his seven-year stint as the head of player relations for the union. Larmer sent a scathing letter to union boss Saskin and the player reps, announcing his decision to step down.
In his letter Larmer alleges, "I am resigning because this organization has taken a giant step backwards, back to the days of Eagleson where a select few made decisions for the group. Where there has been misinformation and denial of information to the players that is totally disrespectful. This is something that I, and many others, worked so hard to get rid of in our organization and it has all returned. This is wrong. Honesty and transparency should be the foundation of this organization and that has been torn away." Saskin accepted Larmer's resignation, though he obviously disagreed with his views.
Larmer though is not the lone dissenting voice. A group players led by Trent Klatt and Chris Chelios are taking Saskin's appointment, which occured without a formal hiring committe or vote, to the National Labour Relations Board in the United States. Larmer was also harsh at the apparent disregard for the rules earlier this summer when the leage and players association reached a deal. ''The constitution and bylaws are there to protect the organization from any of this happening,'' Larmer wrote in his resignation letter. ''This should have been dealt with right away and because it hasn't leads me to believe that everyone thinks it will go away and everything will be alright.
Several players inclucing Adrian Aucoin of the Chicago Blackhawks, Tie Domi
, Ed Belfour, Eric Lindros and Darcy Tucker of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Brian Leetch and Glen Murray of the Boston Bruins, Dominik Hasek of the Ottawa Senators and others agree with Larmer. It is somewhat sad that the many positives from this NHL season are being shadowed by the mess within the NHLPA. It will probably be best for Ted Saskin to resign and agree to go through a proper hiring process. He is likely the best candidate for this job which will depend on the union and league working hand-in-hand to grow this league and an official vote will surely make that clear. The only question will be that of pride and whether Saskin will consider these current charges to be a humiliation ploy and then either leave or try to tough it out.