Unhappy Larmer resigns from NHL players' union

TORONTO -- After a bitter dispute with the top brass of
the NHL Players' Association, Steve Larmer
resigned as head of player relations Saturday.

The central issue of Larmer's resignation was his concern over
the hiring of executive director Ted Saskin, who replaced Bob
Goodenow, in August. A 15-year veteran, Larmer, along with a
large faction of current players, objected to the fact that
Saskin was given the position without a union-wide vote.

Goodenow became the fall guy in the union following a 10-month
lockout that cost the NHL the entire 2004-05 season. The work
stoppage finally ended when the union agreed to a salary cap
structure, which it said it would not concede to throughout the

Larmer informed NHLPA brass of his resignation with a letter to
Saskin and the 30 player representatives.

"What has happened over the last nine months, and more so in the
last 90 days, has led me to make a tough decision," Larmer said
in the letter. "I am resigning because this organization has
taken a giant step backwards, back to the days of [Alan] Eagleson, where a select few made decisions for the group."

Saskin said he didn't agree with Larmer's reasons for the resignation.

"I find this very unfortunate since he has not received accurate information on recent events and has never discussed any of his concerns with me,'' Saskin said in a statement obtained by the Canadian Press. ''Steve is obviously entitled to his own opinions and while I don't agree with his stated reasons for his resignation, I certainly respect his right to do so.''

Word of Larmer's decision reached players after a busy night of
action Saturday.

"I'm not saying Ted was not the right guy to lead the Players'
Association but I don't think the rules and guidelines of our
organization were followed on who we'd hire, and that's the
bottom line," said Leafs center Eric Lindros,
after his team's win over Atlanta. "It's not so much about Ted
as it is the process."

Larmer, who played with Chicago for 13 seasons before joining
the New York Rangers for two, was a very popular figure with
many of the current players.

"Steve Larmer has been a rock in our organization for many years
and everyone knows and trusts Steve," Lindros added. "It's too
bad that he's gone."

"Steve is a stand-up guy, I played with him in Chicago," Maple
Leafs goaltender Ed Belfour said. "He was a great teammate and
a real leader. It's a sad day that a guy like that has to leave
the Players Association because of what's going on. It's too
bad that it had to happen, but hopefully everyone will take
notice, all of the players and everyone involved."