Michael Russo has covered the National Hockey League since 1995. He has covered the Minnesota Wild for the Star Tribune since 2005, after 10 years of covering the Florida Panthers for the Sun-Sentinel. He uses “Russo’s Rants” to feed a wide-ranging hockey-centric discussion with readers, and can be heard weekly on KFAN (100.3 FM) radio and seen weekly on Fox Sports North.

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NHL responds to NHLPA 'disclaimer of interest' threat by going to the courts

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild off-season news Updated: December 14, 2012 - 7:18 PM

NHL FILES CLASS ACTION COMPLAINT IN FEDERAL COURT AND UNFAIR LABOR PRACTICE CHARGE WITH NLRB

NEW YORK (December 14, 2012) -- 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.

Simultaneously with the filing of its Complaint, the NHL also filed an Unfair Labor Practice Charge with the National Labor Relations Board alleging that by threatening to "disclaim interest," the NHLPA has engaged in an unlawful subversion of the collective bargaining process and conduct that constitutes bad faith bargaining under the National Labor Relations Act.

Statement from the NHLPA:

“The NHLPA has just received a copy of the National Labor Relations Board charge and has not yet been served with the lawsuit. However, based on what we’ve learned so far, the NHL appears to be arguing that Players should be stopped from even considering their right to decide whether or not to be represented by a union. We believe that their position is completely without merit.”

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The league's decision is based on reports today that the NHLPA executive board decided to allow its membership to vote whether or not to authorize the NHLPA to file a disclaimer of interest (where the union essentially lets the league know it no longer represents the players). Again, it was not necessarily to file it, just authorize the ability to file it if it chose to. If they disclaim interest, players could then file antitrust lawsuits seeking to have the lockout deemed illegal and thus monetary damages gained.

The NBA file a disclaimer of interest, and that is what seemed to get the owners to budge then. The NBA lockout ended 12 days later. Clearly the hope here is this type of threat makes the NHL owners budge and the lockout ends. The league though is trying to get in front of this by having the lockout deemed legal.

What is disclaimer of interest vs. decertifying the union? Read this by TSN legal analyst Eric Macramalla.

From Eric on Twitter: Why did NHL file lawsuit first? To get case in front of league friendly court that is more likely to keep lockout in place - and thats NY

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