Saturday, November 19, 2005



So I guess this NHLPA thing isn't going away anytime soon. Steve Larmer quitting without leaving a note would probably get the fenceposts out of a few players' butts; the letter he wrote figures to influence entire dressing rooms.

"I agree with everything Steve Larmer says." That was Adrian Aucoin, Chicago player rep, between games on Hockey Night In Canada. No hemming or hawing--he practically stared at the camera lens. Anyone still think this is going away quietly?

The segment following that one was a semi-surreal satellite conversation between Ron Maclean (sitting next to Don Cherry) and Greg Millen (sitting next to Jim Hughson).

I'll do Millen a favour and assume that he himself doesn't have any particular agenda. (This might be excessively kind, because it means I have to assume that Millen mentioned Larmer had been "hunting for the past week" as meaningless small talk; it sure wasn't to bolster Larmer's credibility).

Anyway, Millen was insisting that this was entirely a process thing: Larmer's a good guy with "no agenda", he just wants things done right, and as such, he doesn't have any particular problem with Ted Saskin being the head of the NHLPA.

Again, I'll assume that Greg Millen thought he was sticking up for an old teammate against accusations of a personal vendetta, because otherwise, this makes no damn sense whatsover.

Read the letter! Sorry, but Steve Larmer didn't bring up Alan Eagleson--three times, including in the 1st paragraph--because he thinks Ted Saskin is the right guy once all this "procedural stuff" is cleared up. Jeez:
Ted is relying on the players playing the game and not paying attention to a most important matter that could affect many players for many years going forward.

We are a tattered union to say the least and it will take along time for the players to trust those that are left to run the PA.

Sorry Millen, but those aren't the words of a guy who's neutral on the matter. In fact, I can sum up Larmer's ten-paragraph corker in one sentence:

"I'm quitting because I don't think my boss is doing his job, or intends to."

I have no doubt that the remaining supporters of Saskin, whether it's 10%, 50%, or 90% of the NHLPA, would be happy to have the non-supporters painted as bitter with private vendettas, but it just doesn't stand up. There has to be room for a segment who doesn't support Saskin for the job on merit, whether that be his work during the lockout, or his actions since.

Anyway, what does this mean for us lowly fans? Probably nothing, at least for now. However, the possibility of the nuclear option, union decertification, is somewhat less remote today than it was yesterday.

A few months ago, TB had this to say, and it's stayed with me:
It's easy to see why the owners want a house union, but the players?

Again, decertification is still a remote possibility, but you can't tell me there's no agents and players thinking this same way. Stay tuned.


I actually found myself feeling sorry for Eric Lindros (a highly unusal occurence) during his interview with Ron McLean on the subject. Poor Lindros just wanted to talk about his team's big win, but McLean continued to hammer away on the union talk. I understand it's important and all, but throw the guy a bone and talk for a few minutes about the Leafs success in the past few weeks or something...

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