NHL LOCKOUT: Day 91 – Tragedy in two parts


April 25, 2012; Boston, MA, USA; A general view of TD Garden before the start of game seven of the 2012 Eastern Conference quarterfinals between the Boston Bruins and the Washington Capitals. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Well, it appears both sides have decided to put their hands in their pockets and bring on the lawsuits.  No, its worse than that. It’s not bad enough that America is reeling from today’s tragedy in Connecticut, or that the lockout has dragged on so long that the President of the United States is asking the parties to grow up and do right by the fans, but today the NHL/ NHLPA fight went nuclear.

The NHLPA took the first step in decertifying the union. The executive board decided to let the players vote on whether or not to file a disclaimer of interest. If the vote passes, then the players will continue the process to break down the union, and certainly kill the season. Now granted, the last time someone attempted this tactic, was last year. The NBA attempted something similar, and both sides fearing a nuclear solution hammered out a compromise withing two weeks.

Now, did this arming the missiles and opening the silos get the owners to blink, or get them back to the table? Oh no, not these guys. The NHL decided to warm up their own nuke by filing a class action lawsuit against the players’ union on behalf of the owners. Here is the NHL’s statement.

“Today, in response to information indicating that NHL Players have or will be asked to vote to authorize the National Hockey League Players’ Association’s Executive Board to proceed to ‘disclaim interest’ in continuing to represent the Players in collective bargaining, the National Hockey League filed a Class Action Complaint in Federal Court in New York seeking a Declaration confirming the ongoing legality of the lockout.

“Simultaneously with the filing of its Complaint, the NHL also filed an Unfair Labor Practice Charge with the National Labor Relations Board alleging that by threatening to ‘disclaim interest,’ the NHLPA has engaged in an unlawful subversion of the collective bargaining process and conduct that constitutes bad faith bargaining under the National Labor Relations Act.”

The league filed a class action suit today in  New York, in an attempt to defend the legality of the three month long lockout.  Furthermore, the NHL filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board. The charge claims the players’ association has bargained in bad faith. (While the first complaint worries me, this second one will very likely and very quickly be laughed out of court.) The NHL said it believes the union’s executive board is seeking authorization to give up its collective bargaining rights, a necessary step before players could file an antitrust lawsuit.

NHL’s #2 Bill Daly declined to comment on the league’s actions Friday.  The NHLPA also declined comment, but in a similar move issued a secondary statement.

”The NHLPA has just received a copy of the National Labor Relations Board charge and has not yet been served with the lawsuit,” the statement said. ”However, based on what we’ve learned so far, the NHL appears to be arguing that players should be stopped from even considering their right to decide whether or not to be represented by a union. We believe that their position is completely without merit.”

Gentlemen. There has been enough horror, tragedy, and stupidity today to last a few years. You’ve proven to each other you’re willing to launch your missiles and kill the season. Good for you. Now someone on some side please do the fans a favor and put the safeties back on the warheads before some player or owner says something REALLY stupid and dooms the entire season.