The NHLPA took the next big step of the NHL lockout when it revealed on Twitter that the vote to enable a disclaimer of interest passed with an overwhelming majority.
Out of 763 NHL players eligible to vote, 729 cast ballots: 706 in favor of enabling PA to disband, 22 against. No hanging chads. #NHLlockout— Helene St. James (@HeleneStJames) December 22, 2012
Now that the executive board of the NHLPA has a majority backing, it can go ahead and file the motion that would ultimately lead to something similar to a decertification of the union.
According to TSN:
It's unlawful for competitors to get together and fix the marketplace. If they do so, they open themselves up to antitrust lawsuits. This applies to the NHL, because the 30 team owners are competitors and they get together and place restrictions on the NHL marketplace.
Things like a salary cap, free agency restrictions and rookie pay are all on their face antitrust violations. Another thing that is an antitrust violation: the owners (as competitors) getting together and agreeing to lockout the players.
The players needed to vote on supporting a disclaimer of interest before moving forward in the process. Now that the votes has passed, they can move into the disclaimer of interest process.
TSN's Eric Macramalla further explained:
Disclaiming interest occurs when the Union terminates its right to represent the players. It's a less formal process than decertification and only requires the Union to renounce representation of the players. It's easier to do and it takes less time to re-form the Union afterwards.
The NHLPA has up until Jan. 2 to file a disclaimer of interest, but with the NHL schedule up to Jan. 14 already canceled, there doesn't appear to be a sense of urgency from either side.
It is fair to say that up to this point, previous deadlines have truly meant nothing. It meant nothing that the two sides didn't negotiate seriously before the Sept. 15 expiration date of the previous CBA.
It didn't matter that serious and crucial negotiations that involved a 50-50 split did not start until November.
However, there is now a line drawn in the sand, and Jan. 15 is circled on the calendar. The NHL has been adamant that the season must have at least 48 games, and the season would have to start on Jan. 15 for that to be possible.
In order for that to happen, a new CBA would have to be signed and ratified weeks before that date.
Daren Millard of Sportsnet provided a timeline that would have to occur in order for the season to start. He also factored in the possibility of the season being canceled.
Let me hypothesize how this plays out.Marathon meetings in nyc on the weekend of Jan 4,5,6.Announcement saving/canceling season 7th.— Daren Millard (@darenmillard) December 20, 2012
For the NHL to have a season, teams need to call back all their players from overseas, and a brief training camp would need to be held for players to get in game shape.
It becomes increasingly difficult for this to become a possibility when the two sides have not met together during the past few days.
The season would be days from starting if NHL would meet with players without regard to "agenda." Agenda? To get a deal. 6th Ave misfeasance— Larry Brooks(@NYP_Brooksie) December 22, 2012
Although both sides have voiced that the holidays would not be an impediment to potential talks, it does not appear that the two sides will get together until after the holidays.
Just talked to a couple of people who are close to the negotiations, not expecting any CBA sessions this weekend.— John Shannon (@JSportsnet) December 21, 2012
At this point, the NHL and NHLPA are truly living out famed philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche's quote, "When you stare into the abyss, the abyss stares back at you."
The abyss has been the cancellation of the season. Now each side is staring the other down with that in mind, and it really doesn't seem to matter. It is make or break time for both parties, and there is not much time left.
Although Jan. 15 is 24 days away, the wheels need to be set in motion so a season can start. The fate of the upcoming season should be known in a matter of days, and it will be clear whether or not both sides are willing to enter around-the-clock talks to negotiate a CBA in time.
At this point, the potential for a 2012-13 season may be the only thing motivating each side to get a deal done. If the entire season is scrubbed, there will be no motivation to get a deal done soon, both sides will dig in and this lockout will get ugly.
If the season has already been lost, each side will claw for their demands, and they will take no prisoners.
It is in the interest of both sides to get a deal done. The NHL has pressure from its sponsors to have a season, the fans want to see the players back on the ice, and hockey becomes more irrelevant as the days go on.
It is very hard to look at the NHL and think that only a few months ago the sport was celebrating a year of record revenues. One of the league's biggest markets had just won their first Stanley Cup.
The popularity and interest in the league should have kept going up from that point, but it has dropped quicker than Eric Lindros after a Scott Stevens open-ice hit.
The world may not have ended on Dec. 21, 2012, but the game of hockey may suffer its Armageddon in a few short weeks. All the cards are on the table, and now it is up to the powers that be to decide what is going to happen with the 2012-13 NHL season.