The Hockey Hall of Famer began a conference call with the players' executive board with his announcement that he was leaving as the NHLPA's director of hockey affairs, ending eight years of work at the union. "This decision was made with careful thought and consideration and has been contemplated over an extended period of time," Gartner said in a statement.
"I leave with great reservation due to my longstanding involvement with the Players' Association and in light of the current circumstances affecting the union. I am sincerely troubled by the recent revelations and am hopeful that the Association can move forward and be restored to a level of respect worthy of its members.
"These are difficult times for the Association and I feel at this point I can best serve the future of a changing union by stepping aside. I will continue to fully support all efforts to restore the integrity of the NHLPA."
Gartner's resignation comes just over a week after executive director Ted Saskin and senior director Ken Kim were sent home on a paid of leave due to allegations they read NHLPA players' e-mails.
The player reps on Monday night's call voted to retain outside counsel, lawyer Chris Paliare, a partner at Paliare Roland in Toronto, "to address the employment issues surrounding Mr. Saskin and Mr. Kim," the union said in a statement.
Paliare will counsel the executive board on whether to pay off whatever severance package Saskin and Kim are entitled to or whether there are grounds to fire them with just cause.
An internal review in the hiring of Saskin, conducted by Toronto lawyer Sheila Block, is also ongoing.
Gartner joined the NHLPA in 1999 as its director of business relations following a 19-year NHL playing career. Gartner helped improve the pensions for current and former players. In March 2006, Gartner was named director of hockey affairs, a position which gave him a non-voting position on the NHL/NHLPA competition committee.
"For the past 25 years I have served the National Hockey League Players' Association in various capacities and since 1999 as an employee of the Association," said Gartner. "I am proud of all that the NHLPA has collectively achieved for the players' rights during these years, the goodwill and positive impact that has been made through numerous charitable initiatives, the NHLPA's ongoing support of retired players, and for the positive changes in the game that have been made in the most recent years. I am also grateful to have had the opportunity to work alongside many wonderful people at the NHLPA office."