The NHL has decided it's going to beat the NHLPA to the punch when it comes to taking the lockout to the legal system.
Just a few hours after word surfaced that the NHLPA took another step toward filing a disclaimer of interest, the NHL released a statement on Friday afternoon announcing that it has filed a class action complaint in federal court.
Along with that, the league also filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board.
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."
In response, the NHLPA issued the following statement.
"The NHLPA has just received a copy of the National Labor Relations Board charge and has not yet been served with the lawsuit. However, based on what we've learned so far, the NHL appears to be arguing that Players should be stopped from even considering their right to decide whether or not to be represented by a union. We believe that their position is completely without merit."
This is basically the NHL trying to take away whatever leverage the NHLPA hoped to gain by disolving its union whether it be through a decertification or a disclaimer of interest. As sports laywer Eric Macramalla pointed out on Twitter, the NHL filed the lawsuit first to get in front of a court that is likely to keep the lockout in place.
Why did NHL file lawsuit first? To get case in front of league friendly court that is more likely to keep lockout in place - and thats NY— Eric Macramalla (@EricOnSportsLaw) December 14, 2012
So there you go. The lockout has now hit the court system. It shouldn't be much of a surprise (it happened in the NBA, and that lockout was solved soon after), but it's still frustrating for NHL fans to see it reach this point.