NHL Lockout, Day 72: Talk Of Union Decertification Growing
Sabres G Ryan Miller has taken a stand on the "controversial subject of decertifying the National Hockey League Players’ Association as the next step in the lockout," according to James Mirtle of the GLOBE & MAIL. Miller in an e-mail wrote, “After watching the other sport leagues go through labour disputes last year, it is apparent that until decertification is filed, there will not be any real movement or negotiation. Many things in our negotiation are very consistent with the NFL and NBA negotiations, and both of those leagues filed papers necessary to decertify." He added, "It seems like the players in any league are going to be subjected to the same scripted labour dispute developed by (NHL and NBA law firm) Proskauer Rose in all collective bargaining discussions now and in the future. Decertification becomes part of the script because [NHL Commissioner] Gary Bettman and the owners are trying to get a sense of how far they can push us and at some point we have to say ‘enough'" (GLOBE & MAIL, 11/22). In N.Y., Jeff Klein noted there was "public discussion about the possibility of decertifying the union." NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly called decertification “a time-consuming process that would likely lead to the end of the season.” But NHLPA Special Counsel Steve Fehr said of the possibility, “All things are under consideration” (N.Y. TIMES, 11/24). NHLPA Exec Dir Donald Fehr, when asked if it was too soon to be talking about decertification, said, "You can look at what's happened in the other sports and make your own judgment about that." He added, "I'm not going to discuss whether we've had any such discussion or if so what they are. I never discuss internal communications" (PHILLY.com, 11/24).
SUPPORT BUILDING AMONG PLAYERS: The GLOBE & MAIL's Mirtle wrote it is "not certain the NHLPA will choose decertification, but support is building among players after their latest offer was rejected so swiftly" (GLOBE & MAIL, 11/22). Capitals D Karl Alzner said, "Before anything like that happens, we have to be well aware of what it means for us and for the union" (CALGARY HERALD, 11/22). Predators D Shea Weber said, "You hear about it in the media, but I think that we need to make sure we know what it involves, and what we might need to do or what might happen as a cause of it" (TENNESSEAN.com, 11/23). Univ. of Georgia Sports Law Professor Nathaniel Grow said, "I’m still a little surprised the players haven’t decertified yet. They already lost that season, and I always wondered why they didn’t pursue it in 2005. Part of the issue with decertification is if you wait too long, it just takes time for this to play out. ... If you wait until mid-January and then decide to decertify, the season is pretty much going to be gone before the court even has a chance to address the legality of the lockout" (GLOBE & MAIL, 11/23). Daly said, "I wouldn't view an antitrust lawsuit in this case to be anything other than [an] unfortunate development because I think it's a time consuming process and would likely lead to the end of the season" (GLOBE & MAIL, 11/23). CSNPHILLY.com's Tim Panaccio wrote decertification is "absurd. It's unrealistic. And it would be wasting valuable time heading on a detour in the talks rather than sticking with the process and getting a deal done" (CSNPHILLY.com, 11/25).
DISSENT IN THE RANKS? There was speculation of player unrest after Capitals D Roman Hamrlik criticized the union's strategy and saying he was “disgusted.” Hamrlik: “If half of players say let’s play, then they should sign new CBA. If there is no season [Fehr] should leave and we will find someone new.” The GLOBE & MAIL’s Mirtle noted the comments “sparked widespread outrage from his fellow NHLPA members.” But Hamrlik on Thursday said that he “wasn’t taking back his comments.” Hamrlik: “We are all together in this. … I’ve been in the league for 20 years and faced three lockouts and there’s only 14 other guys that have done that. I believe I’ve earned the right to say what I think.” He added, “About Fehr, I just think time is against us. We need the solution. I think this is a fight between two groups that have too much pride. I still support Fehr, but we the players we need to push him more to get the best deal possible, as soon as possible. That’s what I think. ... How many more weeks, how many more months can we wait?” (GLOBE & MAIL, 11/23). Jets LW Andrew Ladd on Friday said, “(Hamrlik) said the deal (in 2005) didn’t get better after that (lockout ended) and it did. It was a hard cap when they cancelled the year and it ended up being tied to revenue, which bumped it up to where it is right now. It’s inaccurate in that sense.” Capitals G Michal Neuvirth “threw his support behind Hamrlik and said the lockout was only about the superstars, not about what was best for all members of the NHLPA.” But Ladd said, “That’s completely false. Your superstars are always going to make their money, regardless. There’s so much more into it, (the NHL) wants to add another year before guys get salary arbitration and a lot of (contract rights) and stuff like that, it affects everybody. I would encourage them to check into it a little more, be on some calls and get a little more information.” Still, in Winnipeg, Ken Wiebe wrote it would be “ridiculous to suggest the NHLPA is beginning to fracture,” as that is “simply not the case” (WINNIPEG SUN, 11/24). Capitals RW Troy Brouwer said of Hamrlik and Neuvirth, "Those are two guys that have never been on a conference call, never been to a meeting, never paid attention." He added, "Me being on their team, how am I going to trust them as a teammate from now on?” (FANNATION.com, 11/24).
MANY VOICES: YAHOO SPORTS’ Sean Leahy wrote the comments did not mean there was dissent among the union ranks. With a union “filled with 700-plus players, it's impossible for there to be 100 per cent pull in the same direction” (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 11/23). Kings C Jarret Stoll in a text wrote the owners are “hoping the players cave, which isn't gonna happen.” Stoll: “This whole process has been one-sided from the start" (ESPN.com, 11/23). In Philadelphia, Sam Carchidi noted “most players say no” when asked if there are cracks in the union’s support of Fehr. But it is “interesting that a couple players have gone public with complaint” (PHILLY.com, 11/23). Sharks LW Ryane Clowe said, “Sticking together, it’s very important. … I’d say 95 percent of the players are on the same page” (MERCURYNEWS.com, 11/25).