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NHL will argue contracts are null and void if union decertifies

Dec 15, 2012, 3:30 PM EDT

Gary Bettman AP

The class action complaint the NHL filed yesterday against the NHLPA is full of legalese, but there’s one aspect that brings a lot of interest should the players’ association decide to decertify.

If you scan ahead to section 14 of the filing, linked here at Sportsnet, the league says that if the National Labor Relations Board declares the NHLPA’s bid for decertification or disclaimer to be upheld, “all existing contracts between NHL players and NHL teams would be void and unenforceable.”

Their reasoning here would be that since the contracts were agreed upon under the old CBA and the players would be effectively ending the collective bargaining process through decertification, there would be nothing holding it together anymore.

In short, the league has another hammer to swing should the players decide to match up with them with a court filing of their own. Then again, the quickest way to get around all the legal wrangling is to get a new CBA figured out in the first place.

Would the players want to call the league’s bluff when it comes to their own guaranteed contracts?

Michael Russo of The Star-Tribune has a lengthy read going over all of this that’s worth your time as well.

  1. antkowiak666 - Dec 15, 2012 at 3:38 PM

    this league is a F@$#ING JOKE!just CANCEL the season already!

  2. pondhockeyallstar - Dec 15, 2012 at 3:38 PM

    So this means the leafs will be able to sign whoever they want….. yesssss

    • ucaneverscorenoughgoals - Dec 15, 2012 at 4:09 PM

      Unfortuneately for them…..their roster won’t change much as many top players still wouldn’t go there.

      • sunderlanding - Dec 16, 2012 at 4:06 AM

        Are you crazy? Lots of players would love to play in Toronto. Everyone knows Stamkos would love to go there. Nash had Toronto on his list. Even Gretzky used to dream of being a Leaf.

      • ucaneverscorenoughgoals - Dec 16, 2012 at 10:12 AM

        If Stamkos wanted to play in Toronto he wouldn’t have signed a a five year deal to stay in Tampa Bay two summers ago.

        Nash wanted to play for ANY team other than coulumbus! If his only option was eastern siberia he might have chose that over the Blue Jackets…(taxes are a lot lower in Russia)

        And Gretzky was too nice to ever say he wouldn’t play for Toronto. The reality is that he played for four different teams and when he had the opportunity to go elsewhere after playing in St. Louis, he still went to New York.

        Rationalize it anyway you want, this summer suggests minnesota was a much more attarctive option than Toronto to any big name free agent.

  3. pastabelly - Dec 15, 2012 at 3:49 PM

    We need a new WHA. The NHL and its owners have failed the fans.

  4. joeyashwi - Dec 15, 2012 at 3:59 PM

    So all the Wild fans who bought Parise and Suter jerseys can sue then?

    • ucaneverscorenoughgoals - Dec 15, 2012 at 4:10 PM

      Depends….those two will probably resign with the wild….It simply won’t be for the favorable cap figure which existed prior to the lockout

  5. broadstbully33 - Dec 15, 2012 at 4:13 PM

    I can’t imagine Pitt,Philly, Vancouver, New York, la,Boston , would want to lose there entire teams over this. It’s also a risk on their part.

    • neelyisgod - Dec 15, 2012 at 6:07 PM

      I could see Boston being for it seeing how Jeremy Jacobs is the mastermind behind this. A penny saved is a dollar earned after all

    • biasedhomer - Dec 15, 2012 at 9:28 PM

      Philly can get Weber!! And get rid of Bryz!

  6. lordfletcher - Dec 15, 2012 at 4:16 PM

    I see the lockout finally got entertaining!!!

    Yesterday the Hobbit and now this… what a great weekend

    Guess who has his popcorn ready.

    • badintent - Dec 16, 2012 at 12:32 AM

      Yes , and somewhere in North Korea , the Evil Dictator is asking his generals ,”Can our missiles reach Bettmans’s office ?”
      Don’t forget the 121212 MSG concert too ! no hockey, no problem , just have Bon Jovi and the Boss play.

  7. shotzongoal - Dec 15, 2012 at 4:16 PM

    I also just read on twitter @katestang Vote tomorrow by player to give executive board authorization to begin disclaimer of interest. This is getting interesting,. The lawyers are working overtime.

  8. blkhwk21 - Dec 15, 2012 at 4:17 PM

    Decertify. It’s the only way to get back what has been lost

    • stakex - Dec 15, 2012 at 5:08 PM

      …or to lose an awful lot more.

      Considering that the NHL has set the New York courts as the legal battleground, the players are quite likely to lose in court. If that happens, the players have absolutely no leverage and will have to sign whatever deal the owners put in front of them.

      • atwatercrushesokoye - Dec 15, 2012 at 7:12 PM

        It could drag on forever, according to the legal expert at SI the likelihood is that the US supreme court would accept this case if given the opportunity because of this popping up in leagues previously and there being no ultimate case law on it. New York is the battleground for now…

  9. stangz11 - Dec 15, 2012 at 4:24 PM

    Sounds like the NHL is really well prepared! It’s almost like they’ve been through this before….oh wait

  10. fortwaynekomets - Dec 15, 2012 at 4:53 PM

    I have already replaced the NHL to the ECHL. its not the same talent, but you’d be shocked how many draft picks and NHLers are playing in the league right now. its awesome, Ryan Reaves, Devin Settagucci, Brandon Dubinski, Ryan Clowe, etc. the list goes on and on. It’s way better than the KHL, in my opinion. but then again I hate the euro-trash game they bring to North American Hockey.

    For 30 bucks a month I get unlimited ECHL hockey on America One Sports online, including access to the Video On Demand archives of past games!!!

    ps. I do not work for the ECHL, I am promoting it out of pure passion for my team, the Fort Wayne Komets, who are celebrating their 60th season with the legendary rink announcer Bob Chase!

    Don’t let the NHL ruin your families Christmas! I know there is no way to explain this to the kids, but take them to your local AHL or ECHL teams games! The tradition lives on!

    • trick9 - Dec 15, 2012 at 6:06 PM

      What have you smoked? ECHL better than KHL?

      Sure, because watching Dubinsky is more entertaining than watching Datsyuk, Malkin or Ovechkin play.

    • lordfletcher - Dec 15, 2012 at 6:58 PM

      “euro-trash game”

      come on dude ….

      and, Setoguchi

  11. ewoods6 - Dec 15, 2012 at 4:54 PM

    Be nice to see this much effort put into negotiations an getting a deal done.

  12. mgp1219 - Dec 15, 2012 at 5:08 PM

    id4joey will need to give us all the new date for an agreement to be reached because according to one of his posts on 12/12 an agreement would be reached by 12/17 (he said within 3-5 days).

    joey, please check with your “sources” and report back to us.

  13. stakex - Dec 15, 2012 at 5:15 PM

    The players are simply out classed all around here. The NHL knew the possibility of a disclaimer of interest was coming, and they have been ready for a while now. They have set the legal battleground in a friendly court, and are carrying a really big stick right now. I don’t see 2/3 of the players being willing to roll the dice on this.

    Believe it or not though, all of this makes a deal more likely.

    • macjacmccoy - Dec 15, 2012 at 5:35 PM

      You seem to be drinking the owners kool aid hand and fist. Sure the owners are prepared but you think the players aren’t? Yes the owners have business experience that the players dont but does that matter in court? Not a bit. Yea they have a lot of money but so does the NHLPA. There’s only so many lawyers your can buy and the players can afford very competent laywers too. You know how many superstar union and worker rights lawyers there are out there who would love to take this case? The amount of publicity these lawyers will get and the money they will make in the future off of that will have them lined up around the block to be apart of this case even at a discount. The fact that they could win makes it that much more appealing for them. And the great thing for the lawyers of the Union is all they have to do is force the owners to end the lockout for them to be named the winners. Which is a great thing to have on your resume when looking to sign with that huge firm that’s hiring.

      • badintent - Dec 17, 2012 at 1:27 AM

        Someone call Sean Avery ! He ‘s a” Mad Men” on Madison Ave now, looking for new biz and clients. Willing to take “Sloppy Seconds ” He can put any player in a Rotor Rooter commercial,” And a way goes trouble down the drain !”

    • atwatercrushesokoye - Dec 15, 2012 at 6:30 PM

      I think this actually weakens the owners, players have to love the thought of being free agents able to market their services without any salary restrictions. It would kill 10 teams probably, the Leafs, Rangers and Candiens have to love the idea along with the top 2/3 of the players. Lots of players are going to get a lot of money in the panic. If this looks like its anywhere close to happening the owners will capitulate, Bettman, Daly and Batterman would be fired immediately.

      The owners pulled out a hammer that actually hurts many of them and benefits a lot of players…genius move!

      • hockeydon10 - Dec 15, 2012 at 10:07 PM

        This is what I don’t get about all the people saying stupid crap like, “Yeah you dumb*** players, you’re going to lose so much!”

        Like the salary cap.
        Like entry level contracts being so small
        Like allowing teams to take a player to arbitration
        Like waiting until age 28 for free agency
        Like limits to the length of contracts
        And many other things that protect the owners from themselves.

        Remember in 2005 when the players took a 24% rollback? Reverse that.

        Remember in the 10 years prior to the 2004-05 lockout where three teams accounted for 80% of the Stanley Cup winners? Yeah, back to that sort of thing again. (Not that I would mind so much, being a fan of one of those teams!)

        Don’t get me wrong here, the players do lose some things. Like guaranteed contracts. Sure, the elite players can insist the team picks up the cost of insurance, but a lot of 2nd through 4th liners will not get guaranteed contracts. They’ll lose other things as well, but I just don’t see them having more of a down-side to this than the owners.

  14. blomfeld - Dec 15, 2012 at 5:24 PM

    Robin: Holy jumping Luongo’s Batman !

    Batman: Yes Robin, the Canucks are indeed one team who will view this development favorably.

    This entire business is now becoming almost surreal if not entertaining eh ? Seriously, can you imagine the “sigh of relief” which will come from Canuckle headquarters here if it now turns out that they’re off the hook for the 45 million dollars owed to Luongo ? Holy crap, that sigh of relief is likely to be a category 5 hurricane ! And no doubt there’ll be similar “hurricanes of joy” throughout the entire league if this actually comes to be, eh ? Anyway, I’m now finding my upset at there being no hockey starting to be “quizzically” replaced with an almost morbid fascination for this train wreck. This story just gets crazier and crazier with each passing day :)

  15. kingjoe1 - Dec 15, 2012 at 5:31 PM

    Hey the Flyers can dump Prongers and the Bryz’s contract, I am happy to let all the teams start from scratch.

    Let’s see all the players are in a pool and all the teams get to try to sign them…NOW THAT is an exciting off season and half!

    • ucaneverscorenoughgoals - Dec 16, 2012 at 10:24 AM

      I think the majority of big name guys would resign with their current teams. Toews and Kane and even Hossa probably arent leaving Chicago…..Zetterberg, Datsyuk and Franzen aren’t leaving Detroit…….Crosby, Malkin and Neal aren’t leaving Pittsburgh……..the Sedins and Kesler aren’t leaving Vancouver…….etc.

      The Good thing is that guys like Kovalchuk will have to actually count 9 to 10 million against the cap. And, there will be a cap because the league won’t have another season without one.

      • hockeydon10 - Dec 17, 2012 at 10:52 AM

        To have a salary cap, you have to have a CBA.

        If not, then it’s collusion between owners, and they lose big in that lawsuit.

      • ucaneverscorenoughgoals - Dec 17, 2012 at 1:40 PM

        The owners won’t agree to a CBA without a cap. Your right though, collusion would create a huge lawsuit

    • phillyphanatic77 - Dec 16, 2012 at 2:15 PM

      It would be nice to be rid of those contracts, absolutely, but not at the cost of maybe losing Giroux, Couturier, Schenn, Voracek, or Simmonds. I don’t wanna lose that forward corps just to rid ourselves of two excessive contracts, especially when we get an LTIR exception for Pronger. Here’s hoping the legal posturing leads to a deal with an amnesty option for Bryz.

      • ucaneverscorenoughgoals - Dec 16, 2012 at 2:25 PM

        I can’t agree with you, althought I understand where you’re coming from. If those mentioned want to stay they will.

        As for Pronger’s situation or Bryz’s contract, those were risks taken by Flyers management. They shouldn’t be able to just wipe the slate clean without any responsibility for them.

  16. id4joey - Dec 15, 2012 at 6:01 PM

    mgp1219, keep reading articles moron and you’ll see what one of my sources has said. BTW, do you remember Fehr saying they were close to a deal and merely minutes layer it was completely the opposite? Why don’t you jump all over his a$$ jerk off?

    • blomfeld - Dec 15, 2012 at 10:11 PM

      Joey – just ignore him friend, as his submissions throughout reveal him to be nothing more than an “agent of upset” … he will be dealt with in due course, trust me :)

  17. sportsfan69 - Dec 15, 2012 at 6:12 PM

    The NHLPA.

  18. atwatercrushesokoye - Dec 15, 2012 at 6:17 PM

    This is such a bluff by the owners and would pretty much kill the teams already suffering because players wouldn’t sign there. I’d love to see the players call the owners bluff and go to court arguing that they agree with the owners and their contracts should be voided, the players would likely benefit hugely from it as the owners panic and throw big money at everyone as they try to create some sort of team. If this looked like it was anywhere near happening the owners would capitulate quickly.

    • thomaspratt - Dec 15, 2012 at 6:42 PM

      The league would lose anti-trust protection. Wait until Greg Jamieson finally buys the Coyotes, but decides he can make more money if he moves them to Markham.

      I truly hope this was Fehr’s endgame. Collective bargaining has run it’s course in pro sports. The players may lose in a free market, but the league would lose much more. And we fans would be much, much better off.

      • atwatercrushesokoye - Dec 15, 2012 at 7:04 PM

        Exactly, without the anti-trust exemptions the ideas of “protected territories” go out the window, southern Ontario becomes an open market, as does Quebec etc. no relocation fees, no fees to existing franchises.

        The more I think about it this is a dream scenario for the players, they don’t even have to really like the idea ov voided contracts but just let it be known that you think the NHL is right about this and the players will accept it and all of a sudden the owners will start panicking.

  19. pastabelly - Dec 15, 2012 at 6:43 PM

    Fehr has forgotten more than those weasels, Jacobs and Betteman, will ever know.

  20. jimw81 - Dec 15, 2012 at 7:27 PM

    As far as a vote issue, tabled offers are not required a full member vote. Offers that pass the negotiating committee are eligible for a full member vote. For this to violate the Taft Hartley act, a member must request the executive board to circumvent the negotiating committee and bring up an offer to the membership. That would be in the board’s minutes and would be evidence. No evidence, no case.

    • hockeydon10 - Dec 15, 2012 at 10:11 PM

      Before it even gets that far, the players have to be on Strike. They’re not, so Taft Hartley is inappropriate.

  21. ron05342 - Dec 15, 2012 at 7:50 PM

    Fehr: DOI.

    Bettman: I will see your DOI and raise you null and voided contracts.

    Fehr: Fold.

    • atwatercrushesokoye - Dec 15, 2012 at 7:56 PM

      I doubt it, as stated in the article unless it actually says in the standard players contract that they become null and void in the event of this then the idea is likely to be dismissed in court pretty quickly.

      This is Bettman trying to bulky the players unfortunately for him the owners brought Fehr in just for a situation like this, Fehr has more experience at this than Bettman does and is unlikely to cave in the face of these tactics. Fehr has also gone down the anti-trust road before, when he was head of the MLBPA they won an anti-trust case against the owners for collusion. He’s probably sitting back and smirking cause he knows the NHL playbook and he’s not the least bit fazed by it.

      • atwatercrushesokoye - Dec 15, 2012 at 7:57 PM

        Players brought in Fehr rather…

  22. capsfan19 - Dec 15, 2012 at 8:38 PM

    Ha “pass tha borsch mamma”

  23. dreadpiratesteve - Dec 15, 2012 at 8:57 PM

    Just squash it all. NO more contracts, no season. Screw it all!

    Then start fresh with a new CBA and put all the players in a pool and have a fantasy draft to start the league fresh again! THAT would be exciting television!!!

    That’s how numb I’ve become to this insanity. I’m just making up nonsense at this point. I’m playing too much NHL13…

    • barkar942 - Dec 15, 2012 at 9:52 PM

      At least someone is playing NHL hockey in 2013!

      • blomfeld - Dec 16, 2012 at 12:16 AM

        MERRY CHRISTMAS !!!! :)

        Get your BETTMAN ROCKS t-shirts and other gifts at:

        we also have available for the holidays the following excellent “stocking stuffer” tee’s:

        – FROM KHL WITH LOVE !







  24. cspsrbums - Dec 16, 2012 at 12:20 AM

    Ha ID4 clown how many times did you say they would be signing in a few day 3 maybe 4 times telling the players to just sign you will lose out anyway take what you can get and so on. You don’t know Jack Sh** now will you and bloom just go away for good

    • valoisvipers - Dec 16, 2012 at 9:42 AM

      There just might be a signing in a few days.We will all have to wait to see how this plays out as the players are just starting to vote today and that process could take 5 days.As for the players it is true that as everyday passes the do lose more money,just yesterday was their 5th lost cheque so it is in their interest to sign and sign soon.I don’t see the players going done this road of disclaimer,decertifacation and the whole court route. There is no hockey now and that is because of Fehr fighting for the big buck star players and last time I looked they are a minority in the NHL.It’s Roman Hamerlic time.

      • id4joey - Dec 16, 2012 at 11:48 AM

        valoisvipers, Hahaha! It’s hammer lik time…. The Cup was merely 20 minutes from your part of town on Friday.

    • id4joey - Dec 16, 2012 at 11:46 AM

      Well! Excuse me for being optimistic, and for my sources being duped by Fehr and Bettman. Dang! Even Fehr announced they were close to a deal only to retract that statement minutes later. Listen! My sources and I are trying our best to give you some insight. So! Back the f off. Sit back and enjoy the ride, moron.

  25. chibimike - Dec 17, 2012 at 1:56 PM

    Sure, the league is going to argue contracts are null and void after paying a buttload of players signing bonuses. Thanks for the free money, owners. Now I can go play wherever I want.

  26. icrew29 - Dec 17, 2012 at 3:01 PM

    I would think the NHL is not that stupid. All contracts become null and void and every player in the NHL becomes an unrestricted free agent.

    • sportsfan69 - Dec 17, 2012 at 9:18 PM

      The owners would just establish a draft. That’s all, done!

      • hockeydon10 - Dec 17, 2012 at 9:25 PM

        No draft. That would be collusion also.

  27. islanders1 - Dec 18, 2012 at 12:18 PM

    No contracts NO CAP league would have to put in it’s own rules for which the player will file a suit for collusion. Toronto – Montreal – New York – lines 1 through 3 would all be previous first round picks! Watch Bettman’s most competitive league speech then what a bunch of deranged exec. and owners you got million in concessions agreed to by the players and you pull the deal off the table over what…….. So self absorbed that they have the balls to compare battles where real people lost their lives over like in Afghanistan to 5 year contract terms “the hill we will die on” Well your not dead yet and are most likely enjoying your 3 – 4 million per year salary. Go fight in a real war instead of acting like a baby that did not get it’s own way. Next time do not compare your job or decisions to anything like what our soldiers have to face.

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