NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr
The decertification of the NHLPA could result in another lost NHL season, which is why the players' union should only make this decision if they have no other way of negotiating a fair CBA with the owners.
Since we are already in December, there probably isn't enough time for the NHLPA to decertifiy and also save the 2012-13 season.
NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly was asked about decertification and how it could impact the lockout last month (via Chris Botta of the Sports Business Journal):
Bill Daly: Decertification would "likely lead to the end of the season."— Chris Botta (@ChrisBottaNHL) November 23, 2012
Decertification, if implemented in the immediate future, could take over a month. That would take us into early January, and by that point in the lockout, there might not be a lot of time left to save the season.
Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun presents a possible timeline:
In order to get in a 48-game season, the lockout needs to be settled within 26 days.You can't start a year any later than Jan. 10. #ticking— steve simmons (@simmonssteve) December 4, 2012
Do you think the 2012-13 season will start before December 25?
We don't know the final deadline to save the NHL season, or if the league even has a firm date in mind yet.
However, if Tuesday's players-and-owners-only meeting doesn't provide any new optimism, figuring out a season-deadline date could certainly be addressed at the NHL's Board of Governors meeting the following day.
In all likelihood, it's too late for decertification if the intention of the NHLPA is to play hockey this winter. It's hard to see the union decertifying, then being able to work out a CBA while there also could be some court battles.
It would be foolish to think that the players could fully decertify and make a deal in just one month's time.
If the NHLPA ultimately decides to decertify, we can probably assume that the decision was made because the owners were completely unwilling to budge on their labor demands, and the only way to resolve this labor dispute is to go to court.
It would be surprising if the owners gave the players no choice but to decertify. Both sides need to realize that they aren't too far away from reaching a new CBA, and that choosing to blow up the season would not benefit anyone involved with the league now, and in the long-term.
If decertification became an option that the members of the NHLPA voted on, it would be shocking if the majority of the players wanted to take this kind of action.
If all else fails, the smart choice would be to take the league's best offer and get the game back on the ice. That's much better than decertifying, and risking even further damage to the union and the sport.