The NHLPA executive board made it official late Thursday as the 30 player reps voted unanimously to fire executive director
. His undoing? Allegedly reading e-mails between players after the collective-bargaining agreement had been instituted. "All I am going to say at this time is that I remain proud of all the work I did for NHL players over the last 16 years and particularly in negotiating the new CBA, which has been working out well," Saskin told Canadian Press. He had been on administrative leave. . . .
International Ice Hockey Federation president Rene Fasel said he would like to "bridge the gap" between Europe and North America with his creation of an exhibition series starting in September 2008 between the European champion and whichever club won the previous season's Stanley Cup. The NHL will participate. Now, if the Stanley Cup champion can't go to Europe, Fasel would like to see the Montreal Canadiens represent the NHL. "As a Francophone who grew up as a Canadiens fan, it would be a dream for me to have the Canadiens," he told reporters at the IIHF World Championships. "But the decision is not up to me. We will have to talk with the league." . . .
The Russians still aren't buying into the transfer agreement. Russian hockey federation president Vladislav Tretiak told reporters overseas at the World Championships this week that 80 percent of the clubs won't sign right now. This could have a terrible impact on Alexei Cherepanov's draft status. A number of NHL clubs are leery going into the draft and signing Russian players without the transfer agreement signed, sealed and delivered to the NHL offices. . . .
This just in: The Edmonton Oilers are not for sale. Seems EIG (Edmonton Investors Group) turned down an offer of $145 million from Rexall Pharmacy tycoon Daryl Katz. "This group has endured a lot of pain and agony and expense," said EIG chairman Cal Nichols to the Globe and Mail. "It was more like, 'Surrender now?' There's brand attachment with a lot of the individual businesses, and that's important here." Surrender what? . . .
If anyone ever again questions whether Jaromir Jagr still has the motivation inside him to win another Stanley Cup, we would refer them to video of every game in that six-game Buffalo-Rangers semifinal series. Jagr single-handedly carried the Rangers much of the series and tried to propel them past a younger, quicker, better team by himself. "I felt this team could go all the way," he said. "We made a lot of mistakes. Not rookie mistakes. Mental mistakes that cost us." . . .
You don't think Sabres goalie Ryan Miller wasn't motivated to go much farther in postseason after last spring's Eastern Conference final loss to Carolina? "I remember walking out of Carolina's rink talking to my dad, shaking my head and saying, 'I was 20 minutes away from a chance,' " Miller told reporters after Buffalo ousted the Rangers last Sunday. "It stuck with me the whole year. I want that chance again and I think everybody in this room appreciates it." . . .
Finally, congratulations to Comcast president Peter Luukko. His 15-year-old son, Nick, was selected in the 15th round of last weekend's Ontario Hockey League draft by the London Knights. Nick will play in the John Labatt Centre - an arena his father helped get built. Five years ago, when the arena opened, Nick posed for a picture, wearing a London sweater. "Maybe one day I'll get drafted by the Knights," Nick wished.