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Friday, March 09, 2007
Interesting Developments in NHLPA Investigation
In January, I did a post regarding the approval of an independent investigation into the hiring of current NHLPA executive director, Ted Saskin. There have been a couple of interesting developments since then.
First, about three weeks ago, Liz Mullen of Sports Business Journal reported that there are 9 side letter agreements entered between the NHL and the NHLPA in conjunction with the 2005 CBA that have been kept secret from the players (NHL says players' union should keep side deals secret, 2/19/07). These side letters add to or elaborate on details of what was agreed to in the CBA. According to Mullen, Saskin said in an email that he agreed with the league to keep these side letters confidential because they contain "sensitive economic data" but he also stated that "the material provisions contained in the letter agreements were shared with the players during ratification" of the CBA.
However, some players and agents say that players were not told about the contents of the letters, including one that pledges union money to the league if players are paid too high a percentage of leaguewide revenue, until after they had voted on the labor deal. According to Richard Marcus, an attorney representing the players, "How can the letters be not confidential to Ted Saskin but confidential to the people who employ him?" Mullen also noted the observations of two unnamed labor lawyers who stated that, while there is precedent in which management has been able to keep proprietary information secret from unions, they have never heard of a case in which the union already has the information and keeps it secret from its own members. Also, the NLRB has taken the position that the union's "failure and refusal" to give the players access to the side letters constitutes a violation of the NLRA.
The second latest development was reported today by Kevin Allen of USA Today ("Players trying to find out if NHLPA accessed private e-mails"). I guess the title of the article sums it all up. But what is interesting is that Saskin is not denying the allegation that union executives have been reading private player emails, but is instead pointing the finger at the former executive director of the union, Bob Goodenow. According to the article, in regards to a conference call that is scheduled for Sunday with the board of player representatives, Saskin told the Canadian Press: "I plan to address the board on Sunday night and the board will learn that Bob Goodenow had instructed NHLPA employees to review player e-mail accounts and this occurred during the lockout and I was not aware of this until much later." Goodenow, in a statement released through his lawyer, responded:
Stay tuned, there's more to come.....
"The allegations made by Ted Saskin against me regarding player emails are false. To date I have not made any public comment since leaving the NHLPA, and I won't now comment on, or get embroiled in current NHLPA issues. That said, I will be glad to respond to questions from players on any NHLPA policies or practices while I was the executive director. I am unaware of an instance where the security of a single player's email or other personal information was compromised."