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NHL players vote to authorize effort to dissolve their union

December 21, 2012|By Helene Elliott
  • Members of the NHL Players' Assn. have voted to authorize their executive board to dissolve the union. Above, Donald Fehr, the union's executive director.
Members of the NHL Players' Assn. have voted to authorize their executive… (Louis Lanzano / Associated…)

Members of the NHL Players’ Assn. have voted to authorize their executive board to dissolve the union, which would pave the way for players to file antitrust lawsuits against the NHL.

Several people who are knowledgeable about the decision but are not authorized to discuss it publicly said the vote by 700-plus players, which concluded Friday, gave the NHLPA’s board overwhelming support for filing a so-called disclaimer of interest.

Filing a disclaimer of interest is a quicker way to dissolve a union than decertification and has the same purpose: clearing the way for players to file a class-action antitrust suit against the NHL. The board has until Jan. 2 to make the filing.

The National Basketball Players Assn., which represents NBA players, filed a disclaimer of interest during its dispute with the league a year ago. However, the players arrived at a new collective bargaining agreement within two weeks. The NBPA re-formed to finish the negotiations.

The NHLPA declined to comment on the players’ vote, which began Sunday and was conducted electronically.

The NHL has canceled games through Jan. 14, wiping out more than half of the original schedule. To fit in a schedule in which each team would play 48 games — the minimum that Commissioner Gary Bettman has said would be needed for a season with “integrity” — the league and players would have to reach an 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 their conference rivals.

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