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NHLPA Considers Circumventing Lockout for Canadian Teams

September 12th, 2012 at 1:21 PM
By Matthew Heimlich

The NHLPA has reportedly been considering pursuing a course of action that would potentially prevent Canadian NHL teams from locking their players out in the event that a new CBA cannot be reached by the upcoming deadline. Therefore, these players would be able to use the team facilities and would get paid as if the season was ongoing. 

Unlike the US where labor laws are federal and can be applied with the same effect in any state, Canadian labor laws are provincial and vary dramatically among the different provinces. 

In Quebec, the NHLPA is not a certified union and under their labor laws, an uncertified union cannot be locked out. As such, the Montreal Canadiens' players have hired a Montreal lawyer to represent them before the Quebec Labor Board, where later this week he will seek an injunction against the NHL from enforcing the lockout if a deal is not reached by the deadline on Saturday night.

In Alberta, a mediator must work with the two sides for 14 days before declaring an impasse. Then there is a "cooling off" period, and only afterwards can an employer call a lockout. Lawyers from the NHL are currently looking into whether teams like the Calgary Flames  and Edmonton Oilers might only have to pay damages instead of letting the players go back to work.

However, the Montreal Gazette reports that the NHL requested that the province of Ontario not appoint a conciliation board, which would allow the NHL to successfully lock out the Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators.

In Manitoba, provincial laws require a mediation after 60 days of a work stoppage, or else sanctions can be entered. Therefore, it is possible that Winnipeg Jets players might receive some compensation if the lockout were to continue into November.

According to the NY Times, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly conceded that this may affect the league's ability to enforce a lockout in certain Canadian provinces, but noted, "What I'd say is that it doesn't  concern us and certainly would have no impact on league-wide negotiations and the ultimate deal we end up agreeing to. It's a sideshow"." 

Talks between the NHL and NHLPA are set to resume today.

Tags: Law, NHL, Sports, Sports Law

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