The embattled union director was reacting to a newspaper story that police were investigating whether the NHLPA interfered with player e-mails. Saskin released a statement saying he would not comment further while an internal review launched last month continued.
“The NHLPA is fully co-operating with the internal review process currently being conducted,” Saskin said in the statement. “As we have previously advised, we will not be making any comment until the review process is complete.
“We remain confident that there have been no illegal activities at the NHLPA and are looking forward to responding to these allegations once the internal review has been completed and reported on to the membership.”
A call to Toronto police was not immediately returned Monday. A call to Toronto lawyer Sheila Block, who is spearheading the internal review, was also not returned.
Detroit Red Wings defenceman Chris Chelios, who has led the charge into questioning the procedure of Saskin’s hiring, declined comment Monday.
Toronto Maple Leafs forward Matt Stajan, the club’s player rep with the union, said he just heard Monday that police were apparently investigating.
“They’re looking into it and that’s good. It’s your private life,” Stajan said after practice.
“I don’t know how the media got a hold of it. … It was brought up in a (union) meeting we had earlier in the season.”
Tim Taylor, the Tampa Bay Lightning’s player rep, hadn’t read about the latest developments, but said he supports Saskin.
“I think he’s done a great job so far with the players’ association,” Taylor said after the Lightning practised in Vancouver on Monday. “In the future we’ve come to grips that we have to change things and make sure things are done in the right order to be successful.”
Citing sources, the newspaper reported Monday that police are investigating complaints that executives at the NHLPA accessed and in some cases blocked the e-mail accounts of players who have challenged the hiring of Saskin. Last month, the players voted for an independent investigation into the hiring of Saskin in July 2005.
For the past two weeks, police have been looking into allegations Saskin and Ken Kim, the union’s senior director of business, ordered technical support staff at the union to access player e-mail accounts hosted by the union, and whether such an action would be illegal, four sources familiar with the investigation told the newspaper.
The newspaper said Toronto police have now presented their findings to a Crown prosecutor, who will decide whether there is enough evidence to lay criminal charges.