This past week the NHLPA filed a challenge with the Quebec Labor Board in a desperate attempt to block the lockout that is expected to begin Saturday night when the current CBA expires.
The argument from the players was that because the NHLPA is not certified by the Labor Board in Quebec, the league could not legally lock out Montreal Canadiens players. Quebec law states that only unions certified with the Board can be locked out by its employer.
An emergency hearing was held on Friday to settle the matter, and the labor board has ruled for the time being in favor of the NHL, meaning the lockout will in fact be allowed to proceed in Quebec.
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According to the CBC, the board will not be releasing its reasoning for the decision at this time due to the urgency of the matter, but will release it in the future.
NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly released the following statement on Friday evening regarding the ruling.
“We are pleased but not surprised with the Quebec Labour Board's ruling tonight that any lockout of Players will be effective on a League-wide basis, including in Quebec, and we are extremely appreciative of the expeditious and decisive manner in which the matter was handled. We are hopeful that this ruling will cause the Players' Association to cease pursuing these needless distractions and instead focus all of its efforts and energies on making progress at the bargaining table.”
Even though the ruling went against the NHLPA (at least for now) they, too, seemed to come away satisfied with the ruling saying that even though the labor board denied the union's request for emergency relief, it also rejected the NHL's request to completely dismiss the case.
“We are pleased with the ruling that the Commission released tonight," said NHLPA general counsel Don Zavelo. "While the Commission denied the players' request for emergency relief, it also rejected the NHL's request to dismiss the case. The ruling acknowledges that the players have raised issues about the legality of the NHL's planned lockout that require a full hearing on the merits.
We remain confident that the lockout is prohibited by the Quebec Labour Code and look forward to presenting our case to the Commission in the near future. Should the NHL carry out its threat to lock out the players in Quebec, it will do so at its own risk.”
Apparently it's all in the eyes of the beholder.
Either way, the NHL's current CBA expires at 11:59 Saturday night and if no new deal is reached before then -- and that doesn't seem likely to happen -- the league will officially lock out the players. Including the ones that play in Quebec.