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NHLPA spying details come out

Details are coming out behind the NHLPA leadership's email spying scandal, which has resulted in the dismissal of executive director Ted Saskin. Over the course of fifteen months, NHLPA email accounts, outside email accounts, and other private information were accessed by Saskin and senior business director Ken Kim in an effort to monitor a group of player reps and NHLPA employees who had questioned the circumstances of Saskin's hiring in the wake of the 2004-5 NHL lockout.

Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of this report isn't just the length of time and deliberate intent by Saskin and Kim, but apparently the cooperation in their activities by some who should know better. I'll get to that in a minute, but first, a few of the major details as outlined over at sportsbusinessjournal.com (heads-up from Kukla's Korner):

Saskin and Kim began monitoring e-mails in September 2005, soon after Saskin was appointed executive director and Trent Klatt, then an executive board member, began asking questions about Saskin’s hiring. Saskin and Kim’s efforts extended into January 2007, and 45 NHL players’ and 21 NHLPA employees’ e-mails were accessed.

Kim would routinely print out e-mails, place them in a manila envelope and put the envelopes on Saskin’s desk in the NHLPA’s Toronto headquarters, sources said. “Sometimes he would bring it directly to Ted’s house,” one source said.

Saskin and Kim not only read messages sent over players’ and employees’ NHLPA.com accounts but also accessed the personal, nonunion account of Klatt.

Saskin and Kim gained access not only to personal e-mails but also to records of how players voted on the collective-bargaining agreement that ended the 2004-05 NHL lockout, getting the information through the NHLPA’s IT department.

“In the report, Ken Kim talked about when the Hewlett-Packard scandal came out, they stopped,” a source said. “They were worried about it.” But a few months later they started accessing the e-mails again, after Saskin learned that a group of players, led by Chelios, was trying to get signatures on a resolution to investigate Saskin’s hiring, as well as Bob Goodenow’s firing and the negotiation of the CBA.

There are so many bombshells here it's hard to tell where to start - obviously monitoring the player reps email activities within their NHLPA accounts is suspect, but accessing Trent Klatt's outside, personal email clearly crosses the line. Note also how Saskin and Kim were aware of the snooping scandal that brought down Hewlett-Packard chairwoman Patricia Dunn - they halted their activities for a while, but resumed when the heat started rising again.

What interests me here is how the NHLPA's IT group seems to have helped this "Big Brother" program along. According to the report Kim used Klatt's NHLPA password to access the outside personal account - presumably Kim got that password through shoddy security policies, or someone in IT provided it to him (unless of course it was "pass", in which case, shame on you Trent Klatt). Then there's the point about providing the details of what was supposedly a "secret ballot" to end the 2004-5 lockout and ratify the new CBA. It would appear that there's at least one bad apple within the NHLPA IT department...

When not blogging here as the Forechecker, my mild-mannered alter ego works in IT. I sure as heck know I'm not going to look favorably on any resumes coming across my desk that list network security for the NHLPA as working experience!

Ultimately, the NHLPA will get the leadership it demands and deserves - instead of merely turning to the next guy in line when Bob Goodenow resigned, they should have engaged in a professional search for a qualified, able executive. The only good to come out of all this is for the players to learn this lesson, and apply it usefully in the weeks and months ahead as they search for a new executive director.

Then again, if the attached story is true, I say bring in the toughest SOB you can and bring some new ownership to the Windy City:

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