Weighing All Options

Nicole Del Villano

After losing over 300 games, over $400,000,000 in salaries and 74 days of both preseason and regular season, the NHL and NHLPA have decided to go in a different direction to end the lockout; a mediator.

Both sides have agreed to bring in a mediator to meetings Wednesday afternoon to help reach common ground on the new CBA. It has been well known in the public that both sides had problems agreeing on many issues including revenue splits and honoring existing contracts. Fingers have been pointed in the news as to where the problem lies but one thing is clear, both sides are still $182 million apart from a new contract.

While bringing in a mediator may seem like good news to many, it has also brought up a looming feeling. Mediation is one of the last choices for the NHL and NHLPA, meaning if they cannot agree after this there are only a few choices left of what to do. One choice would be to keep trying to work together to figure out a contract, but stringing along hopes of a season and the media circus that is following. The other is a path that many people do not want to see happen so late in the negotiating process; decertification.

By decertifying the NHLPA, it allows the players to file an antitrust litigation against the owners. This lawsuit would change the owners concerns from revenue being loss because of no games, to paying the players billions of dollars in damages. It would efficiently end the lockout but if it is a legitimate option it should have happened months ago.

The path of decertification is a long one that includes petitions being sent to the National Labor Relations Board, getting an election date 60 days after the petition is filed and once a vote is in favor, then filing antitrust lawsuits. The process is a long one that could take multiple months, something the league does not have if they want a season.

While the threat of decertification may be enough to get the NHL to bend on some of its issues, it is a road that may not want to be traveled. With many of the players in Europe, people laid off because of the lack of games and many fans becoming angry to the point of no longer supporting the NHL, both sides need to look to what is best for the league. Can they afford to lose another season and by doing so losing some of the fan base? The mediator seems like the most logical step and the biggest piece of hope to get the 2012-2013 season back.

 

Sources: The New York Times and ESPN

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