NHL Lockout 2012: Proposal to Dissolve NHLPA Shows Bleak Status of Negotiations

Matt FitzgeraldCorrespondent IIIDecember 16, 2012

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 05:  Video production crews move quickly to wire the newly arrived NHL podium for an upcoming press conference following a day of negotiations between the NHL and the Players Association at the Westin Times Square on December 5, 2012 in New York City.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The NHL Players' Association is reportedly proposing to dissolve their union in order to challenge the legality of the 2012 lockout. This development lends itself more to litigation than lighting up any hockey arenas anytime soon, and it shows how bleak the prospects of a 2012-13 season are.

Chris Johnston of the Leader-Post gives a more detailed breakdown on the ramifications this course of action would present:

Two-thirds of the union's membership must vote in favour before the board can file a "disclaimer of interest," according to a source. Disbanding the NHLPA would give players the chance to challenge the legality of the lockout in court and file anti-trust lawsuits against the league.

That two-thirds buffer is quite a majority for the players to get over, but if that's really the best decision to be made at this point, the players have lost any kind of leverage in negotiations.

Thanks to a class-action complaint filed by the league in New York Federal Court on Friday (h/t NHL.com), there weren't many other options for the NHLPA.

It's been harped on ad nauseam, but the biggest hangup in the push for a new collective bargaining agreement is the allocation of hockey-related revenue between the owners and the players. Used to getting 57 percent of HRR, players have had to scale back to a 50-50 cut.

Columbus Blue Jackets reporter Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch provided his insight into just how ridiculous the situation is at this point:

This is how absurd the #NHL lockout has become: players are now willing to kill their union, league now willing to eat itself. #dysfunction

— Aaron Portzline (@Aportzline) December 16, 2012

Boston Bruins captain defenseman Zdeno Chara expressed his displeasure on Sunday as well, as documented by Comcast SportsNet New England's Joe Haggerty:

Zdeno Chara on #NHL lockout: “It’s at a point where I’m not getting frustrated or excited anymore. I’m just waiting for a final decision.”

— Joe Haggerty (@HackswithHaggs) December 16, 2012

It seems as though each side is resigned to the notion that no viable compromise can be made to save the season. This not only hurts the players and other employees, but it also hurts the reputation of the NHL brand—and it's sure to heighten the criticism leveled at league commissioner Gary Bettman.

Getting on the ice should be of utmost importance. Even if a long-term solution to the CBA can't be resolved, would a stopgap compromise to still have a season be such a bad scenario?

Saving at least some of the season and still having the playoffs may diminish the NHL product, but at least there will be one. That way, neither side will want to be stubborn enough and push pencils to lead to a second delayed start to the 2013-14 campaign.

It's understandable that both sides are working in their rational, best interests (a federal mediation team wouldn't have been brought in if this weren't a seriously polarizing issue). But to sacrifice the season to spar over millions of dollars isn't fair to the fans. The NFL and NBA endured their recent lockouts rather successfully.

Hockey isn't afforded that luxury due to its lackluster popularity, which is why both sides must cast differences aside and hit the rink before it's too late.

Time may have already run out, though.