A nearly empty hockey stick rack in the locker room of the Buffalo Sabres… (David Duprey / Associated…)
Members of the NHL Players' Assn. have voted to authorize their executive board to dissolve the union by filing a disclaimer of interest, which would pave the way for players to file anti-trust lawsuits against the NHL.
Several sources who are knowledgeable about the decision but are not authorized to discuss it publicly said the voting by 700-plus players, which concluded on Friday, gave the NHLPA's board overwhelming support for the move. The board has until Jan. 2 to file the disclaimer.
Filing a disclaimer of interest is a quicker way to dissolve a union than decertification and has the same purpose. Should the NHLPA board file the disclaimer, players could then file a class-action antitrust suit against the NHL.
The NHLPA declined to comment on the players' vote, which began on Sunday and was conducted electronically.
The NHL has canceled games through Jan. 14, wiping out slightly more than half of the original schedule. To fit in a schedule of 48 games per team — the number that Commissioner Gary Bettman has said would be the minimum for a season with "integrity" — the league and players would have to reach agreement by early January and start the season no later than about Jan. 20.
The 1994-95 season, which was cut short by the first of three lockouts during Bettman's tenure, started on Jan. 20, 1995 and allowed each team to play 48 games against conference opponents. Should a shortened 2012-13 season be played, it's likely teams would again face only conference rivals.
Gabby Douglas is AP female athlete of the year
When Gabby Douglas allowed herself to dream of being the Olympic champion, she imagined having a nice little dinner with family and friends to celebrate. Maybe she'd make an appearance here and there.
"I didn't think it was going to be crazy," Douglas said, laughing. "I love it. But I realized my perspective was going to have to change."
Just a bit.
The teenager has become a worldwide star since winning the Olympic all-around title in London, the first African American gymnast to claim gymnastics' biggest prize. And now she has earned another honor. Douglas was selected the Associated Press' female athlete of the year, edging out swimmer Missy Franklin in a vote by U.S. editors and news directors that was announced Friday.
"I didn't realize how much of an impact I made," said Douglas, who turns 17 on Dec. 31. "My mom and everyone said, 'You really won't know the full impact until you're 30 or 40 years old.' But it's starting to sink in."
In a year filled with standout performances by female athletes, those of the pint-sized gymnast shined brightest. Douglas received 48 of 157 votes, seven more than Franklin, who won four gold medals and a bronze in London. Serena Williams, who won Wimbledon and the U.S. Open two years after her career was nearly derailed by a series of health problems, was third (24).
Free agent catcher A.J. Pierzynski passed a physical, clearing the way for a one-year deal with the Texas Rangers, a person familiar with the deal said. The roster move won't be made until at least next week.
The Chicago Cubs said they agreed to a one-year contract with outfielder Nate Schierholtz. The deal calls for Schierholtz to earn $2.25 million plus an additional $500,000 in performance bonuses.
The Milwaukee Brewers signed left-handed reliever Tom Gorzelanny to a two-year contract. The 30-year-old Gorzelanny went 4-2 with a 2.88 ERA and one save in 45 games with Washington last season.
The Seattle Mariners signed pitcher Jeremy Bonderman to a minor league contract, hoping the right-hander can make a comeback from Tommy John surgery. Bonderman has not pitched in the majors since 2010, when he went 8-10 with a 5.53 ERA for Detroit.
The Houston Astros signed veteran right-handed reliever Jose Veras to a one-year contract. The 32-year-old Veras was 5-4 in 72 relief appearances for Milwaukee in 2012 with a 3.63 ERA with 79 strikeouts and 61 hits in 67 innings.
Andrew Bynum has been cleared to start a six-step rehabilitation process but there is still no timetable when he can return to play for the Philadelphia 76ers.
The 7-foot center hasn't practiced or played this season because of bone bruises in his knees. Bynum said his right knee now feels fine but there is some pain in his left knee.
Bynum visited his doctor Thursday and received a small dose of good news Friday. The 76ers said Bynum can begin low-impact exercises such riding a stationary bike as the first step of his rehab.
Bynum said, "I'm confident I'll be on the court this season."
The NCAA suspended Texas basketball player Myck Kabongo for 23 games for accepting impermissible benefits and providing false statements during an investigation into the infractions.
Kabongo, a guard, also must repay $475 to a charity of his choice. The NCAA will count all 11 games that Kabongo has missed toward the suspension. Texas had self-imposed a 10-game penalty.
The NCAA said Kabongo accepted airfare and personal training instruction and then provided false and misleading information about the infractions during two interviews with university officials.
Some of the top high school baseball players from the United States and Japan will play a four-game series at the Major League Baseball Urban Youth Academy in Compton Wednesday through Friday. Game times: 11 a.m. Wednesday, 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Thursday, 11 a.m. Friday. Information: (310) 373-4888.