NHLPA's disclaimer deadline tonight

                               Besides reviewing the NHL’s latest revisions to a proposed CBA agreement, the players’ association today must decide whether or not to file a disclaimer of interest to the NLRB, which would turn the group into a trade association---a tactic used by the NBA players in 2011---and allow players to file antitrust suits.

                              On Dec. 21, after several days of voting, players agreed  overwhelmingly to authorize the PA board to decide by midnight tonight, although the deadline could pass and Donald Fehr and the committee could seek another membership vote later in the negotiating process if need be.

                              So it remains an option, as Fehr said last night. 

                              The sides are expected to meet long before midnight, and if the talks continue to have traction---although some key issues remain unresolved---my sense is that the union won’t derail them. But, never say never when it comes to tactics.

                             When word leaked of the vote last month, the NHL responded immediately with a suit in U.S. District Court seeking a declaratory judgment that the lockout was legal, and an unfair labor practice charge with the NLRB. Those cases are pending.

                             Yes, Commissioner Gary Bettman said last night a disclaimer was not a “concern”.  But it certainly would throw a wrench into the talks, which could continue, because the trade association would name Fehr, and possibly his brother, special counsel Steve Fehr, as advisers.

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