NHL Lockout 2012: Decertification Only Option for Players After Latest Rejection

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NHL Lockout 2012: Decertification Only Option for Players After Latest Rejection
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The NHL is losing $18 to $20 million every day that it is locked out, yet it refuses to budge in its negotiations with the NHLPA. On Wednesday, the NHL has rejected yet another NHLPA offer, which has both sides running out of options.

The NHLPA has one more trick left up its sleeve, though, as they have recently begun discussion of decertification, according to an LA Times report. 

During the NFL lockout, the NFLPA accused the owners of not taking the negotiations seriously, and this was before games were even canceled.

The NHL is on track to cancel most, if not all, of their games this season. The two sides are exactly $182 million apart, according to NHLPA leader Donald Fehr. Yet the NHL, instead of looking to narrow that gap, has added more and more requests while continuing to offer less. 

The only way to get the NHL to take these negotiations seriously is through decertification.

If the union decertified, it would no longer represent the players. This would free the players to pursue an antitrust law suit, which could threaten the very existence of the NHL.

Neither side wants to go to court, but it would be the owners who would have the most to fear from such action. The courts could then rule that without a viable negotiating partner, the owners must lift the lockout. 

T.J. Kirkpatrick/Getty Images
DeMaurice Smith led the NFLPA to decertification. It worked.

Further, a court-mandated lifting of the lockout could dissolve the salary cap, NHL draft and many other NHL institutions that protect the owners. This would be the worst possible result for the owners, who would stand to lose a great deal of money should this happen.

While rare, decertifications are powerful. The NFL only began to take negotiations seriously after the players' union decertified, and a deal was agreed upon before the lawsuit concluded.

The ramifications of decertification would be too much for the owners to bear. That's why the players need to do it. Only then will they take these negotiations seriously.

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