The ongoing spat between the NHL and NHLPA just got a whole lot uglier.
Fearing that the players' association would go forth with a plan to decertify as a union and sue the NHL, the league has filed a lawsuit with the U.S. District Court in New York to prove the legality of the lockout.
The league revealed this information via a release on its official website:
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.
In conjunction with the lawsuit, the NHL also filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board, saying that the NHLPA is not bargaining in "good faith."
For hockey fans, this is just the latest piece of bad news in what has been one of the ugliest labor disputes in recent memory.
Some had seen hope in a possible decertification by the NHLPA after a similar situation led to a settlement in the NFL's lockout last year. However, a disclaimer of interest would also essentially prevent the two sides from negotiating for the time being.
Remember, the NFL was going through its labor spat during the offseason, not when games were supposed to be played.
As it stands, the NHL has already canceled games through Dec. 30 and wiped fan-favorite games like the All-Star Game and Winter Classic off the slate. If by some miracle the two sides can come to an agreement in time to take the ice in January 2013, the league will have already lost 526 games from its schedule.
However, as both sides prepare for litigation, things are going to get a whole lot worse before they get better. By involving the courts, the league opens itself up to an elongated hearing process that would siphon more time, knocking even more games off the schedule.
With the season already hanging on by a thread, the chances of a 2012-13 NHL season ever happening are getting worse by the minute.