Union, Forbes and Headshots
The most nervous people in the room after Ted Saskin?
Why the 30 NHL owners, of course.
Saskin may be getting happy feet after months of being hounded by Chris Chelios - remind me to never get that guy mad at me - Dwayne Roloson and Trent Klatt, which some very smart agents helping out in the background.
But while you might think NHL owners are enjoying the spectacle, they're not.
They want Saskin to stay in the job. They believe, you see, that after years of Bob Goodenow, they finally have a union boss they can actually work with.
It was Saskin, don't forget, who cut the deal that ended the lockout with NHL vice-president Bill Daly. Since taking over from Goodenow, Saskin has been trying to work with the league on a variety of issues, although the union remains as useless as ever when it comes to health and safety issues.
I mean, shouldn't they be the ones raising a fuss over head shots?
The point is NHL owners do not want to see Saskin replaced, mostly because they understand his replacement would likely be a hard-ass, antagonistic opponent with which to deal.
So as the pressure mounts on the embattled NHLPA chief, its the owners who may be the most nervous of all.
Jolly good of Forbes to rank the top general managers in North American sport.
Too bad the list is so riddled with errors.
Forget they put Don Waddell of the Atlanta Thrashers at No. 6 on their list, conveniently overlooking the fact the Thrashers have never made the playoffs. Forget that Glen Sather is 12th despite having failed to have any real success in Edmonton or New York in more than a decade.
How about Pierre Lacroix of Colorado at No. 14? Good choice, except he's not the Avalanche GM. Francois Giguere is.
Ditto for Dave Taylor (18), Bob Clarke (27), Mike Keenan (56), Mike O'Connell (73) and Mike Milbury (76).
None are GMs any longer. But they're all treated as such on the Forbes list.
Kind of hard to take it seriously, don't you think? Makes you wonder about everything else that publication does, including its annual valuations of NHL teams.
Craig Hartsburg, through his coaching of the Canada's world junior champs, has become one of the hotter coaching prospects at the moment.
Given that he was also a distinguished NHL defenceman for many years, he might have an opinion or two worth listening to.
And he says the Ontario Hockey League's head checking policy would easily fit the NHL.
"I don't see why not," he said today. "It sure hasn't taken away hitting in our league. I think it has a place in every league."
In the "O," any hit that makes contact with an opponent's head nets a two-minute minor, and anything more egregious than that is five and a game.
Hartsburg said he was surprised by the hit on Leaf defenceman Tomas Kaberle by Cam Janssen of the New Jersey Devils that left Kaberle with a concussion.
"For the most part, players in the NHL have better respect for each other," he said. "But you see a hit like Janssen's and you realize there are still players in the game who are out to hurt people."
Hartsburg, meanwhile, is expected to decide in the next week or so whether he'll coach Canada's entry in the 2008 world junior championships in the Czech Republic.