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December 21. 2012 10:29PM

NHL players take step toward decertifying union,could sue league with antitrust suit, end collective bargaining

The NHL Players' Association has voted to give its executive board the option to file a disclaimer of interest as part of the process to disband the union if it chooses to do so.

The players' vote was conducted during a five-day period and passed overwhelmingly, the Detroit Free Press reported Friday. The executive board has to decide by Jan. 2 whether to file the disclaimer of interest as a quicker means of decertifying the union.

The move would allow the players' union to file an antitrust suit against the NHL, but it removes the option of collective bargaining in the dispute with the league.

"I don't know how much the owners care about the game of hockey," Detroit Red Wings forard Mikael Samuelsson told the Free Press. "I don't know if I say too much here, now, but all the NHL owners who own a team probably have other businesses, too. And the owners know we live and breathe hockey. So to us, it's devastating to not play, not only because of the money and this and that, but just to play the game. That's why we're here in the first place, because we like the game so much. It's just unfortunate it is like this, and I really mean it."

The NHL has countered by filing a class-action complaint in New York Federal Court and also an Unfair Labor Practice Charge against the NHLPA with the National Labor Relations Board.

The two sides have not met since mediation failed last Thursday and no talks are scheduled.

"I know it's a negotiation and you don't have to be friends, but (there's) a good way to do it and (there's) not a good way to do it, and I think they took that path when they walked away," Samuelsson said. "They're playing pretty dirty, I think, in my mind, the way they're negotiating."

NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr said Thursday in a radio interview the holidays would not stop attempts at negotiations.


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