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Terrible Ted Should Be Proud

Chris Chelios has always been a pest. For the first 20-odd years of his career that meant roughing up opposing forwards, yapping at referees, and driving fans nuts as he carved out a Hall of Fame career and won two Stanley Cups. These days, while still a valuable player on the ice, he's stirring things up in a big way with a new lawsuit filed against the NHL Players Association in a bid to have Executive Director Ted Saskin removed from his post. Boring stuff, right? Maybe so, but what Chelios (along with Dwayne Roloson and Trent Klatt) is pursuing is the end of the old days wherein the players unknowingly let themselves get fleeced by representatives who should have had the players' best interest at heart, but instead took advantage of them. Not that such a thing would ever happen these days, right? Like the NHLPA sitting on a $140 million warchest held over from the lockout, and resisting calls to distribute the funds back to current and retired players? Naaahhhh... couldn't be - these guys are pros!

Harken back, if you will, to those dark days of summer 2005, when the CBA had just been negotiated and Bob Goodenow resigned in disgrace. Within a matter of days, Saskin was appointed interim head of the NHLPA, in a number of steps that bypassed the NHLPA's own rules. His permanent appointment a short time later was rushed through, and now he's working under a 5-year, $10 million contract. The bottom line here is that a professional organization with more than a billion dollars in revenue (NHL player salaries) should put more effort into hiring an executive director than the NHLPA showed that summer. Letting Saskin take the reins on an interim basis was understandable at the time, but if they had any semblance of professionalism at all, the NHLPA would have engaged a consulting firm to conduct a proper search for a permanent executive director. Saskin could have certainly been a candidate, but if you're looking for someone to lead this large of an enterprise, you don't just hand the keys to the guy who sat next to Bob Goodenow. You look for the best possible person for the job.

Trevor Linden and the rest of the player leadership who coronated Saskin may be "tired of talking about it," but Chelios is right not to let the issue drop. Linden and the other players showed no more sophistication than their predecessors in the 1950's who failed to follow the likes of Ted Lindsay and stand up for themselves in their professional careers. The appointment of Ted Saskin is yet another chapter in the sad history of hockey players getting taken for a ride, and Chris Chelios is one the few voices trying to speak out against it. 

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