Ex-NHLPA president Linden offers support for Saskin

BURNABY, British Columbia -- Former NHL Players' Association
president Trevor Linden still supports Ted Saskin, the union's
embattled leader.

The union representatives from the 30 NHL teams voted Sunday to
have Saskin and senior director Ken Kim placed on paid leaves of
absence, effective immediately.

The vote was prompted by allegations that Saskin, the executive
director, ordered the monitoring of NHLPA player e-mails. The
e-mail system the players use is administered by the union.

"I'm a big supporter of Ted," Linden said Monday after he and
the Vancouver Canucks practiced. "I think he's a quality
individual and can do a very good job for our group. I thought that
all along.

"I think the executive committee that recommended him to the
board felt strongly in that and that's why we did what we did."

The NHLPA executive board will retain outside counsel to address
allegations made against Saskin and Kim to determine whether they
have grounds to dismiss them from future compensation.

"I didn't expect this and I don't know much about it," he
said. "I think there is more to the story and you have to
understand that. I don't think you can pass judgment until you
understand the full story behind it.

"I'm not going to pass judgment until I know all the facts."

Linden even offered a possible explanation to why players'
e-mail may have been monitored.

"I knew that there were a lot of sensitive documents being
leaked to the media a year and half ago," he said. "I'm not sure
if this has something to do with that.

"I knew there were some agents and some players leaking

Linden and Saskin have been credited for ending the lockout
which wiped out the 2004-05 season and resulted in the new
collective bargaining agreement between the NHL and the players'
association. Linden stepped down last summer as union president.

Linden also was part of the group that recommended Saskin take
over as the union's executive director after Bob Goodenow resigned.
The way Saskin was hired angered a group of players, prompting
lawsuits and allegations of wrongdoing.

Linden said hiring Saskin was the right decision, since he
understood the complexity of the collective bargaining agreement
and where the NHL found its revenue streams.

"It takes a pretty special individual to be able to go through
that stuff and understand it," Linden said.

"The executive acted on the best interests of the players. I
think the executive felt very strongly we needed to go in a new
direction. Ted was the right guy to take our group forward. That's
why we recommended him to the board and that's why he was supported
in a secret ballot.

"It's unfortunate the constant allegations and lawsuits
started. I don't think any of it has any merit."

Brendan Morrison, the Canucks players' representative, called
the e-mail allegations disturbing.

"Morally it's a little disturbing when you have guys looking
over your personal business," he said.

Morrison disagreed with suggestions the NHLPA needs revamping.

"I don't think you have to completely rebuild the whole
foundation," he said. "We have a lot of good people working for