- The Washington Times - Friday, July 29, 2005

A week ago Bob Goodenow said he expected to fulfill his three-year contract as executive director of the NHL Players Association.

Yesterday, Goodenow resigned.

In a move that was not unexpected but was stunning in its suddenness, Goodenow walked away from a job paying him $2.5 million a year just a week after ratification of a six-year collective bargaining agreement with the NHL.

“This decision followed discussions between Goodenow and members of the executive committee about the organization’s future,” the NHLPA said in a statement. It was not known when those discussions were held, but clearly there were differences over the organization’s direction.

Goodenow, who held the job since 1992, will be replaced by Ted Saskin, formerly senior director of business affairs and licensing and the union’s lead negotiator. The NHL’s lead negotiator, Bill Daly, was promoted to deputy commissioner after the settlement a week ago.

Goodenow came on the job when the union was trying to regroup after a financial scandal. It had been headed by Alan Eagleson, who eventually ended up in a Canadian prison convicted of criminal charges concerning illegal use of union funds for personal gain.

Under Goodenow’s watch, the average player’s salary rose from less than $300,000 in 1992 to $1.83 million after the 2003-04 season.

But many within the union’s ranks lost faith in their leader as a result of the new CBA.

The NHLPA entered the negotiations vowing never to give in to the establishment of a salary cap. But in February, as the 2004-05 season neared cancellation, the union did an about-face and said it would accept the concept of a hard cap driven by a link between revenue and expenses.

Why, many of the players wanted to know, did they have to sacrifice a season of their careers and a year’s salary if they were going to give up on their main objective anyway? Whatever Goodenow’s answer, it was given in private during a meeting of players.

By the time it came to vote on ratification July 21, the players overwhelming approved the deal [-] anything, they said, to get back to playing and get away from the bargaining table. They took a solid beating from management in the talks.

“Every NHL player has benefited enormously from Bob’s leadership and dedication,” said Vancouver center Trevor Linden, president of the NHLPA and the person who got talks restarted in January. “He has been a tireless advocate for the players, and he dramatically improved the players’ situation in every respect.”

“I have always respected Bob’s tenacity, passion and professionalism,” said NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, a long-time adversary.

Said Goodenow: “With the conclusion of the negotiations and the ratification of the new agreement, the parties concur that this is an appropriate action for the future. I am fortunate to have had the opportunity to serve the players over the last 15 years and to have had the support of the tremendous staff at the NHLPA. I wish the players every success under the new CBA.”

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