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What would decertification mean to the NHL?

Nov 23, 2012, 5:28 PM EDT


With the CBA talks seemingly stalled once again and the threat of losing the 2012-13 season entirely looking very real, the players and the media have started to bring up the possibility of the NHLPA decertifying.

So…what does that mean exactly? Well, basically that the union would cease to be, but of course, the potential impact of that move is very difficult to gauge.

Explaining decertification beyond that isn’t a task suited for those without an extensive understanding of the laws involved. Fortunately Gabe Feldman, who is the director of Tulane Law School’s sports law program, recently spoke to CBC’s Elliotte Friedman and gave a thorough analysis of what this all might mean.

Here are the Cliff Notes (the full article can be found here):

  • By dissolving the union, the players can file an anti-trust lawsuit and argue that the lockout is now an illegal group boycott.
  • On the flip side, the players would no longer be protected by labor laws, so in that regard they will have exposed themselves “to the mercy of NHL owners.” For example, without the NHLPA, things like health benefits, the minimum salary, and even guaranteed contracts could be impacted.
  • If the players decertify and then lose the subsequent legal battle, then they will have “lost all leverage.”
  • The NHL will likely attempt to counter the union decertifying by claiming that it’s “just a sham and should not be recognized.”
  • Finally, with regards to the chances of the players being successful if they decertify and take the NHL to court, Feldman said: “If somebody’s telling you they know, they are either delusional or lying to you.”


Daly says decertification “would likely lead to the end of the season”

Ryan Miller thinks NHLPA should decertify

Specter of decertification looms over lockout

  1. blomfeld - Nov 23, 2012 at 7:04 PM


    I don’t profess to be an expert by any means. Yet anyone with even just a working knowledge of the game could tell you that decertification at this point in time, would likely result in the NHL we all know and love being changed forever ! God forbid that ever happens … 😦

    • mercyflush - Nov 24, 2012 at 9:51 PM

      um… the NFLPA decertified in March ’11 during the NFL lockout and it didn’t have any long term effects.

      Decertification is just a tactic used during a work stoppage. It’s not like there will no longer be an NHLPA if they decertify…

  2. id4joey - Nov 23, 2012 at 7:18 PM

    Keep in mind that they can re-certify.

    • blomfeld - Nov 24, 2012 at 1:35 AM

      A message to “he” who calls himself Joey, there in New France …

      Friend, there’s no doubt that that they could “potentially” re-certify and such. However, such reasoning can only be based upon the rationale of “Ceteris Paribus” … or all other things being equal. However, “equal” things will not be ! If this thing blows up and the season is lost, then I do fear that the NHL will be changed for the worse … and possibly forever ? Now of course here in Canada it’ll always be “business as usual”, even if there’s a 5 x year lockout. It’s stateside however that I’m most worried. The Americans are fickle and they’ll simply “move on” down there, especially in those sunshine states. I’ve no problem with whacking say 3-4 of those stupid teams. But my concern however is if 14-16 x US teams fall on hard times and pack it in. The domino effect could be catastrophic, as it would take years to rebuild a truly legitimate league. Nonetheless, I’m still holding out that your original assertion was correct, by calling for play to resume by mid December or so.

      Historical sidebar: were you aware friend, that the main reason Wolf prevailed over Montcalm at the Battle of Plains of Abraham in 1759, was because he ordered the British line to “stand with right foot aback”, thus presenting the French with a reduced target profile ? In fact, I would submit that had Wolf not given that command, then we’d in all likelihood being conversing in “la langue française” today ! :)

  3. sampulls - Nov 23, 2012 at 7:46 PM

    Decertification = players lose even more money to lawyers.
    Results = same thing as they are getting now.

    • blomfeld - Nov 24, 2012 at 1:44 AM

      Yes friend … Lawyers = Vermin ! :)

  4. sportsfan69 - Nov 23, 2012 at 8:04 PM

    When Don Fehr speaks, the players lose money by the hour. $350-400 per hour. Priceless!

    • blomfeld - Nov 24, 2012 at 1:47 AM

      Good … and so they should !

    • tatdue - Nov 24, 2012 at 2:07 PM

      He’s not getting paid during lock out try again! While Bettman on the other hand gets ($8,000,000 divided by 8760 (hours in a year) = $913.24 per hour whether he talks or not!…….Priceless!

  5. id4joey - Nov 23, 2012 at 8:29 PM

    I don’t think he’s paid by the hour, and if he were it would 7 to 10 times that amount.

    • blomfeld - Nov 24, 2012 at 2:03 AM

      @Id4joey – when this is all said and done friend, I hardly think that Fehr’s pay will amount to a paltry $4,000 per hour ? … I think that instead of “times” ten, you meant to say to the “power” of ten … no ? :)

      • williplett - Nov 24, 2012 at 2:47 AM

        Poor Gary has had to get by on $7.5 mil or so a year the last three seasons. Poor Gary.

      • id4joey - Nov 24, 2012 at 8:37 AM

        Certainly more 00000 than my pay cheque. He must make at least as much as GB.

  6. capsrockva - Nov 23, 2012 at 10:14 PM

    Seriously, get the dam deal done!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I’m sick of this

  7. thedavesiknowiknow - Nov 23, 2012 at 10:46 PM

  8. atwatercrushesokoye - Nov 23, 2012 at 11:34 PM

    They’re still protected by labor laws (it’s the law!) they’re not protected by the previous things they’ve negotiated. For instance there would still be a minimum salary it would just be government mandated minimum wage rather than the previously negotiated amount…not sure what it is but guessing its around $750,000.

    Also the players would still have leverage its just it would be in the fear owners would have of losing an anti-trust case, which would mean triple damages as mandated by US anti-trust laws.

    You also fail to mention the things the league would lose such as the entry draft (that would be limiting an employees chance to market their abilities), organized free agency, salary cap and floor as well as the ability to keep franchises in markets or charge relocation fees…the second the NHLPA decertifies (and it’s recognized by the courts) Toronto becomes open without any sort of fees due to the Maple Leafs.

  9. Jeff - Nov 24, 2012 at 1:59 AM

    The NHL players don’t have cajones to decertify. Though I would love to see it because it worked like a charm for the NFL and NBA players. In both cases it brought the owners to the the table with a willingness to compromise.
    On the other hand, the NHL owners just don’t care. Most, if not all, are losing less money now. They’ve been through this before. The owners clearly have the upper hand.

  10. acieu - Nov 24, 2012 at 4:34 AM

    I love chaos and uncertainty so players go for it. Canada form your own league like the CFL. Those salaries will let you hosers buy a lot a Canadian/Canadien Tire/Tyre products eh?. You can have five or six teams in metro Toronto and Regina or Vagina whichever you prefer can hit the big time. We can unpopulated Florida, Myrtle Beach SC and southern California by having no hockey for our northern friends to watch and the Saturday Night comedy shows can hire all US citizens. Lastly since I live in a southern state we can expand the SEC football schedule and let the local ice melt. I would say a win for all concerned.

    • tatdue - Nov 24, 2012 at 2:16 PM

      So if you don’t like hockey why are you here you ignorant racist?

      • valoisvipers - Nov 26, 2012 at 12:01 AM

        Tatoo Finally something we agree on.

  11. icrew29 - Nov 24, 2012 at 10:31 AM

    I think they will try the federal mediator before decertification.

  12. id4joey - Nov 24, 2012 at 6:50 PM

    It has been reported that Daly and Bettman are also not paid during the lockout.

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