Skip to content

NHL files class action complaint, unfair labor charge against NHLPA

Dec 14, 2012, 5:15 PM EDT

Gary Bettman; Bill Daly; Bob Betterman AP

Let the legal wrangling begin.

From the NHL:

“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.”

How this all shakes out nobody knows.

However, it’s worth noting that the NHL is responding very similarly to the way the NBA responded in November of 2011 when the NBPA began disbanding. Less than two weeks later, the two sides reached a tentative agreement to end the basketball lockout and the season started on Dec. 25.

  1. gbar22 - Dec 14, 2012 at 5:25 PM

    This just keeps escalating and escalating but is anyone really surprised? Surely this had to be expected when Donald Fehr of all people was hired to head the NHLPA.

    • blomfeld - Dec 14, 2012 at 10:57 PM

      FEHR CARES !!!!!!

      • badintent - Dec 15, 2012 at 4:16 PM

        Keep the great videos coming, Have a great winter skiing Big White & Silver Star !!!

    • badintent - Dec 15, 2012 at 12:01 AM

      Me and the boys took a road trip out to Lake Okanagan in Kewlona , British Colmbia to see the wine country. We saw many huge homes on or overlooking the lake. I asked a real estate agent who owned most of the homes. He said,”They are owned by members of the Calgary Flames and go for $5 million a piece.”
      Our hearts go to these long suffering players surviving in these mansions. Hope the property tax man will cut them some slack…………… NOT !

      • woodstakes - Dec 15, 2012 at 12:47 AM

        Yup and the owners live in hovels I would suppose… oh thats right its ok for owners to be rich but not the people who help them stay rich.

      • badintent - Dec 15, 2012 at 12:56 AM

        Let me guess. your father, grandfather and all your uncles are union members,, You are a life long NDP party member and think that the NHL comrades making an average of $2.5 million a year is peanuts. How about my friend that works for $20/hour at MSG doing security and his union? Think the players are gonna make up his lost $$ from no hockey games this year or next ? N-O-T G-O-N-N-A H-A-P-P-E-N .
        “Socialism is great……. until the $$ runs out ” Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher

      • blomfeld - Dec 15, 2012 at 1:06 AM

        Terrific post friend ! I know Kelowna only too well, with it being in my backyard here and having an old friend who built houses there for the likes of these hockey players and such. With all kidding aside, I personally have “zero” empathy for these bourgeois parasites … the same goes for Bettman and his horde. I love NHL hockey and hope that there’s an agreement. Yet I have to admit that a part of me hopes that they truly destroy each other.

      • woodstakes - Dec 15, 2012 at 1:13 AM

        badintent LAST I checked the PLAYERS had NOTHING to do with the fact that all those people you listed for losing their jobs! The OWNERS LOCKED THEM OUT TOO! So start throwing your hate at the people who’s actions have forced the issue.

      • drewsylvania - Dec 17, 2012 at 7:13 PM

        Classic trolling stupidity. You could at least look up “socialism” in the dictionary before using the word.

      • badintent - Dec 18, 2012 at 1:10 AM

        @drewthelight bulb
        Why should I look it up ? Then you’d lose your day job. Hurry up, you’re late for your union meeting for the wildcat strikes

  2. jimw81 - Dec 14, 2012 at 5:28 PM

    Gary Bettman decided to take the NHL to a new low.

    • stakex - Dec 14, 2012 at 5:31 PM

      Its not a new low at all, its a counter attack to the possibility of the union filing a disclaim of interest.

      The reason the NHL is doing this is very simple: Certain courts in the US are more likely to side with the players, so what the NHL is doing is making sure this all takes place in a court thats far more favorable to owners by sueing first in the court of their choice.

      • phillyphanatic77 - Dec 15, 2012 at 12:40 PM

        Yeah you’re right, if the league filed in the U.S. district court in New York it’s much more sympathetic to management. Is that where they filed? The NHLPA could potentially file for a change of venue but they have to have a good reason, which they probably don’t. These legal maneuvers got the NBA to settle but the two parties here seem more likely to let the courts make their decisions before either one gives in.

    • gp424 - Dec 14, 2012 at 6:56 PM

      The new low is when the NHLPA violated the Taft-Hartley act, but not allowing all members that it represents to vote on a valid proposal by ownership.

      • atwatercrushesokoye - Dec 14, 2012 at 10:33 PM

        Taft-Hartley deals with strikes not lockouts.

    • blomfeld - Dec 14, 2012 at 10:47 PM


    • blomfeld - Dec 14, 2012 at 10:51 PM


    • blomfeld - Dec 14, 2012 at 10:59 PM

      AND SO DOES BETTMAN !!!!!!

    • blomfeld - Dec 14, 2012 at 11:10 PM

      BETTMAN LOVES YOU !!!!!!!!!

    • blomfeld - Dec 14, 2012 at 11:24 PM

      THAT’S A GREAT POINT FRIEND !!!!!!!! :)

    • blomfeld - Dec 14, 2012 at 11:26 PM

      Do you think ?

      • badintent - Dec 14, 2012 at 11:55 PM

        One is named Nixon , the other is Halderman.

      • blomfeld - Dec 15, 2012 at 1:09 AM

        Could also be Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld ?

  3. acieu - Dec 14, 2012 at 5:31 PM

    Donald Fehr decided to tale the NHLPA- to a new low.

    • blomfeld - Dec 14, 2012 at 10:49 PM

      FEHR RULES !!!

  4. somekat - Dec 14, 2012 at 5:55 PM

    Bettman : “I see your ‘disclamier of interest’ and raise you an unfair labor practice”
    Much like the NBA, but not so much. The NBA players were able to use the fact that the NBA was their only viable option to play in their favor. The NHL players can’t, as a good chunk of them are already playing in different leagues. The biggest chip the NBA players had, the NHL players already gave away. So the procedure is the same, but the consequences for the league are not anywhere near the same

    • woodstakes - Dec 14, 2012 at 7:28 PM

      That’s not true there are MANY other professional basketball leagues around the globe.. the NBA and the NHL are in the exact same boat. NHL players are playing elsewhere making far less money.. NBA players could go play elsewhere and make far less money. Virtually no difference, only difference is the NBA players didn’t go to another league to play while they were locked out.

      • shotzongoal - Dec 14, 2012 at 8:34 PM

        @woodstakes, I think the point is, in order to win an antitrust suit you have to prove a monopoly or a restriction in trade. There are 18 professional hockey leagues in Europe. 250 NHL’ers are already playing there. More are going every day. Like somekat said, “The biggest chip the NBA players had, the NHL players already gave away.” As for making less money, so what? The courts or the National Labor Relations Board are not going to care if the players are making less money or more money but is there a restriction of trade. I don’t know anything about the NBA but are their is many foreign born players in the NBA as there are in the NHL? That could be one reason why the NBA players didn’t move to other leagues but that’s just speculation.

      • blomfeld - Dec 14, 2012 at 11:14 PM

        THAT’S A GREAT POINT FRIEND !!!!!!!! :)

      • somekat - Dec 14, 2012 at 11:58 PM

        But none of those other basketball leagues can give them a comparable salary. There are other football and baseball leagues too, but none that can give you a comparable salary to the NFL and NBA.

        Without even going in to the multiple Euro leagues that players can get a nice check from, there is the KHL, which has paid guys enough to lure them from the NHL pre-lockout. Who is the last NBA player, who was a shoe in for a roster spot, and playing time, decide he’d rather play in another country? NFL? MLB? Guys go there when they have no other options. I can think of at least a half dozen Euros taht decided to go to the KHL over the NHL. The lowest paid KHL players may get paid much less than the lowest paid NHL players, but they can get a comparable salary there. Comparable and equal are not the same thing

      • woodstakes - Dec 15, 2012 at 12:30 AM

        shotzongoal: “As for making less money, so what? The courts or the National Labor Relations Board are not going to care if the players are making less money or more money but is there a restriction of trade.” You just made my POINT there bud… he compared the 2 leagues.. BOTH leagues have competition in other areas of the country and world. NBA had no more of monopoly than the NHL.

        The WHOLE reason to decertify is to make the League(s) decide whether or not they want to go through probably 2 yrs minimum of court proceedings in order to get their teams back to playing. They essentially are calling their bluff.. saying “… fine you won’t meet us halfway on some of these issues we’ll do it in court…” meanwhile we will go play AND get paid while we are doing it. The fans, the sponsors, the TV money will all follow the stars. Always has always will. In the NHL’s case, all the league can do is put replacements in the there and sorry can’t use 3/4 of the players in the AHL since they almost all have NHL contracts already. Its the players basically saying that the issues they have not folded on are so important to them they are willing to lose all of this season and probably all of next in order to get them. Whether you agree or disagree with them, apparently they are serious enough about it to put it to a vote for all members to decide.

        About the only beautiful thing about decertification is the fact the owners will have to open ALL the books up for the courts. HRR means nothing to them, they’ll want to see where every penny the NHL took in and where it went and why.

      • woodstakes - Dec 15, 2012 at 12:34 AM

        somekat your missing the point.. the courts don’t CARE about where you can make more money or less money.. all they care about is whether its a monopoly and whether fair business practices are/were followed. Under a CBA all those business practices are protected by the CBA so the league & union can do just about what ever they want AS LONG as it is being governed by the CBA that both parties agreed to. Without a CBA the NHL now has to operate completely differently. It would have to follow the same laws that everyone else does.

      • shotzongoal - Dec 15, 2012 at 2:21 PM

        @ woodstakes – You’re confusing the threat of a disclaimer of interest to actually decertifying. The threat of the disclaimer is a negotiations strategy to create a panic of a complete league destruction. It’s designed to create leverage to pressure the owners into signing a new CBA. Having said this, if the players continue with the threat, the NHL has already stated they would kill the season. Let’s hope the NHL doesn’t just say, “okay, desolve your union, we’ll see you in court.”

        The things you talked about are if the union does walk away from the players and desolves. Then what you say maybe be correct but not the way you put it. There are no more negotiations because there is no PA. Class action lawsuits would be filed. The players livelihood in North America would be gone. Of course they could earn a living in other leagues in Europe but those earning would be less, 35% less in the KHL then in the NHL. As for you comment that “the fans, the sponsors, the TV money will all follow the stars,” keep in mind that the real money is in North America and in the NHL. It would be very difficult for NHL fans to follow the European teams. The player will be European stars with European TV rights There will be no professional hockey in North America. Should the NHL decide to form new league using replacement players, then the 75% of AHL players you spoke of that have NHL contracts would all be available to renegotiate the existing contracts with their previous NHL team or even a new team. The same goes for 100% of the NHL players that currently have NHL contracts. The biggest threat to the owners is the antitrust lawsuits. The player would have to show the courts that they do not have a way to make a living because of the NHL’s actions. The players have already exhausted that logic by playing in other leagues in Europe.

        Finally, I see no beautiful thing about decertification as you stated. In my opinion there is no beautiful thing about losing a sport that I love to watch in person and on TV. There is no beautiful thing about damaging the livelihood of thousands of support people for at least a year, if not longer, Maybe the owners books have already been open, neither you or I can know that for a fact. In my opinion the players are and will be the biggest losers. The owners will write off their hockey losses on another part of their business and the players will lose the salary and benefits of being hockey stars in North America and playing in the NHL. Years and years of litigation will make Don Fehr a richer lawyer all because he told the player, as reported in the media, “hold out for a better deal.”

    • atwatercrushesokoye - Dec 14, 2012 at 10:27 PM

      Doesn’t work that way, the US courts have no interest in what’s happening anywhere else in the world they have an interest in what’s happening in the US, 25 American teams working in lockstep to set working conditions (salary caps etc) where the workers aren’t part of a union is by its nature a violation of the Sherman Act.

      From what I’ve heard if the PA gets the courts to lift the lockout then the NHL will immediately reinstate the terms of the previous CBA to try to keep the current conditions (salary cap etc) going and protect themselves, since the players had agreed to that, while the case winds it’s way through the courts.

      Not completely out of the realm of possibility that could happen here, the NFL operated in a similar manner between 1987 and 1993 while the Reggie White case worked itself out.

      • blomfeld - Dec 14, 2012 at 11:03 PM

        YES, LEGAL COURTS RULE !!!!!!!

      • somekat - Dec 15, 2012 at 12:04 AM

        Not true, because the leauge is going by the old CBA. They had an out, and they took it. The government can’t force them to employ people. Contracts would instantly be invalid, as they were done using terms that required the PA, and were based on certain agreements with the PA. Once that is done, the players have no legal standing to demand anything.

        The whole “the courts only care about what is happening in the U.S. may be true if the NHL was a U.S. company, but since it’s an international company, with multiple agreements with international companies (both in terms of broadcasting and hockey related), other options WOULD come in to play. You can’t have a workforce that is a majority foriegners, and not consider foreign companies. The NBA has maybe 15% foreign born. The NHL is like 75%

    • blomfeld - Dec 14, 2012 at 11:21 PM

      THAT’S A GREAT POINT FRIEND !!!!!!!! :)

  5. bcjim - Dec 14, 2012 at 6:10 PM

    Man this is rich.

    Here for better or worse is the NHLs “bargaining” ..”This is the deal. period” They are dictating not bargaining, so yeah, pretty rich.

    That said, I still think the players would be wise to take said deal, now.

    • stakex - Dec 14, 2012 at 6:15 PM

      Well the owners have moved quite a bit recently up until things broke down last week. If their offer was take it or leave it the whole time they would still be demanding 57% of HRR.

      You’re right though, the players would be smart to take this deal now. Otherwise they are going to end up losing a years salary, all the make-whole dollars, and the owners might not even come close to their current offer next summer. The best possible situation for the players is take this deal, and save the season…. it only gets worse from here.

      • blomfeld - Dec 14, 2012 at 11:05 PM

        STAKEX ROCKS !!!!!!!!!!

      • bcjim - Dec 15, 2012 at 9:36 AM

        I think their initial proposal was an uber-ridiculous suggestion floated just to make their current non negotiable proposal seem “reasonable”.

  6. sportsfan69 - Dec 14, 2012 at 6:15 PM

    Gary and the NHL owners,

    Message to Donald and the NHLPA, here is our final offer, no more B-S. If you want an agreement, put it to a vote with your Union.

    • billsin20xx - Dec 14, 2012 at 6:40 PM

      Buy first maybe the owners will ask for a few days to sign more players to 20 year contracts, before they then implement new rules.
      How can anybody believe anything these owners say when people like Jacobs sign players to long term deals the day before they lock them out and then say no long term deals?????

      • blomfeld - Dec 14, 2012 at 11:07 PM


  7. thedavesiknowiknow - Dec 14, 2012 at 6:43 PM

    One word (for you grammar clowns, I’ll include a hyphen): Dance-off. Winner gets their terms.

  8. capsfan19 - Dec 14, 2012 at 6:44 PM

    Ahh how politically incorrect i would like to take this… Gotta love lawyers.

    • blomfeld - Dec 14, 2012 at 10:46 PM

      LAWYERS ROCK !!!

  9. gp424 - Dec 14, 2012 at 6:55 PM

    It is about time, since the NHLPA has violated NLRB laws and the Taft-Hartley act, by not allowing all members the opportunity to vote on a legitimate and valid offer provided by the owners. Sorry but the Fehruer will lose this because all players have the right to a vote on a contract, not just 11 or 12. And those 11 or 12 Cannot under the law deny the players their rights.

    • woodstakes - Dec 14, 2012 at 7:38 PM

      When was it that players were not allowed to vote on a deal?? The union is setup with board of leaders to negotiate on behalf of all of the union. Each team has a rep, those reps are there to keep the rest of the union updated on all of the deals. IF the people THEY ALL chose to represent them decided that the deal wasn’t good enough to vote on then it doesn’t get voted on. HOWEVER at anytime the rest of the union can request to move to vote on any deal that has been offered or is being offered. When exactly was it that all of the other union members or even a significant number asked to vote on a deal and Fehr said “No..”, I for one don’t remember hearing that. I remember a couple of players saying some things like maybe they weren’t completely on board to staying locked out to the media, but I never heard any of them formally asking for a vote.

      IF that did happen and they did ask and Fehr said “No…” then you are absolutely right. But otherwise you have union reps to handle the negotiations based on what the UNION as a WHOLE decided was the criteria that needed to be met in order for accepting a deal that the UNION as a WHOLE said would be fair. So if the criteria wasn’t met then there is NO reason to request the rest of the members vote on a deal that doesn’t meet the criteria already agreed upon. However, the rest of players could request a vote anytime and I don’t recall that happening.

      • gp424 - Dec 15, 2012 at 1:02 AM

        Actually your entire documentary is wrong. Roman Hamrlik and other players have asked for a vote, and were denied. One of the players I believe it was Hainsey stated that we thought about voting on it, but “we, the 11 of us” decided against it. There is nothing to decide, under the law and under Taft Hartley, there is no choice when one side makes an offer that is complete on all issues the union has to allow it’s members to vote on it period. The Executive board is for negotiating not for determining members are allowed to vote. Same with Reps, the represent there teams and can MAKE recommendations, but they cannot say vote or no vote.

      • woodstakes - Dec 15, 2012 at 1:18 AM

        WOULD you PLEASE go look up what he “Taft Hartley Law” is and entails. IT covers STRIKES!! S-T-R-I-K-E-S! Not LOCKOUTS… THIS is a lockout man!

        As for Hamrlik and Hainsey NEITHER of them said we wanted to have a FULL vote on this or anything else. They were saying as being apart of the Executive Board they decided not to vote. Two completely different things. The executives vote than the rest of the union votes.

      • woodstakes - Dec 15, 2012 at 1:23 AM

        Taft–Hartley Act:
        “The amendments enacted in Taft-Hartley added a list of prohibited actions, or unfair labor practices, on the part of unions to the NLRA, which had previously only prohibited unfair labor practices committed by employers. The Taft–Hartley Act prohibited jurisdictional STRIKES, wildcat STRIKES, solidarity or political STRIKES, secondary boycotts, secondary and mass picketing, closed shops, and monetary donations by unions to federal political campaigns. It also required union officers to sign non-communist affidavits with the government. Union shops were heavily restricted, and states were allowed to pass right-to-work laws that outlawed closed union shops. Furthermore, the executive branch of the federal government could obtain legal STRIKEbreaking injunctions if an impending or current STRIKE imperiled the national health or safety, a test that has been interpreted broadly by the courts. Though smaller unions were negatively affected as a result of the act, the labor movement as a whole was not greatly impeded by Taft-Hartley. Arguably, the controversial act also helped President Harry Truman get reelected, given that the act galvanized labor unions into opposing Republicans.”

        There I even CAPITALIZED all of the uses of the word STRIKE for you.. you’ll notice there is NOTHING about Lockouts in the Taft–Hartley Act!

    • atwatercrushesokoye - Dec 14, 2012 at 10:33 PM

      They would be violating the Taft-Hartley act if this were a strike and they refused to let the workers vote on a legitimate offer. This is a lockout and the NHLPA board (filled with players) have not recommended any offer for the other players to vote on.

      • blomfeld - Dec 14, 2012 at 10:55 PM

        F TAFT ! … RATS ARE KING !!!!!! :)

      • gp424 - Dec 15, 2012 at 1:03 AM

        Not true

    • sportsfan69 - Dec 14, 2012 at 11:15 PM


      I concur. The “eighteen boys” can’t decide the livelihood of over seven hundred players without a proper vote.

  10. sportsfan69 - Dec 14, 2012 at 8:02 PM


    An actually vote has NOT occurred by ALL the members of the Union. No official memorandum has been sent (emailed). If it did actually occurred, somebody from the news media would have published it anonymously by now. Smoke and mirrors by the Union representatives. The third and four line players would have voted in favor of this deal by now. Don’t be naive.

    • woodstakes - Dec 15, 2012 at 12:40 AM

      Thats NOT the point!! The point is the UNION has broken NO LAWS by not asking for a vote! IF a player apart of the union REQUESTED a vote and was then TURNED DOWN by the Union leaders THEN they would be in violation. SINCE no such formal request has been made (as far as I know) then EVERYTHING they have done thus far is legal. My response was to the fact that the poster made an assertion that Fehr/Leadership had somehow broken the law.

    • woodstakes - Dec 15, 2012 at 12:43 AM

      Furthermore if all of these 3rd and 4th liners believe what you say they believe than why didn’t any of them just stand up and ask for a vote?!?!? They have absolute EQUAL say in this as they are part of the union. So, what.. they were either to stupid or to scared to say something???

  11. sjawesome - Dec 14, 2012 at 9:27 PM

    I can’t take this crap anymore. This is unbelievable. Get over yourselves and get a deal done

  12. blomfeld - Dec 14, 2012 at 10:26 PM


    Had decent “values-driven” folk been at the helm, then no doubt this ridiculous argument and work stoppage would have never happened in the first place. But such as it is, Willard and friends are now calling the shots here and so “on with the show” eh ? Never forget friends, that “peace and harmony” are four lettered words in the language of RATTUS ADVOCATUS. These legal parasites “thrive” on upset and discord in-order to feed their insatiable lust for “ever” more money, make no mistake about that. In fact, they’re even prepared to create upset and discord themselves where none exists, just to further perpetrate their miserable and parasitic existence. If this “contrived” charade does go to the courts as suggested by this article, then suffice it to say that we “real” hockey fans are going to find ourselves at the mercy of a very “verminous and uncaring” horde !

  13. acieu - Dec 15, 2012 at 12:48 AM

    Break away Canada and pay the players CFL wages in the National Canadian Hockey League. On a serious note How do the courts handle the international aspects of a dispute? How do they apply a US ruling no matter what it is to Canadian based teams?

  14. pemory - Dec 15, 2012 at 2:30 PM

    R.I.P. NHL. They’ve (owners & players) effectively killed their league (IMHO).

Top 10 NHL Player Searches
  1. P. Kane (1920)
  2. P. Kessel (1608)
  3. M. Richards (1371)
  4. N. Backstrom (1187)
  5. M. Giordano (1160)