The votes are in and they’ve been counted. Needing at least a two-thirds majority, the NHL ‘s 700-plus players unanimously voted to give their union the power to file a disclaimer of interest by Jan. 2.
If the NHLPA’s 30-member executive board elects to file that disclaimer, the union will be dissolved and players will have the right to file individual class-action antitrust lawsuits against the National Hockey League.
Assuming the union’s negotiating committee files the disclaimer of interest, could there be more than 700 lawsuits filed by NHL players in the coming days and weeks?
“It’s very possible that could happen,” Capitals forward Troy Brouwer told CSNWashington.com. “Every player has the right to file a lawsuit if they want to. I’m assuming most players will because of the situation. I can’t see why guys wouldn’t follow through with it if nothing can be resolved.”
To be clear, the NHLPA executive board can elect not to file the disclaimer of interest and the union can continue to have Don Fehr represent the players.
Last year NBA players filed a disclaimer of interest during their lockout, prompting a return to the bargaining table and an agreement on a new 10-year CBA just 12 days after the filing. The union was re-established after the agreement.
Brouwer said that if the NHLPA is dissolved, players are perfectly capable of obtaining their own representation and fighting the NHL for damages caused by the work stoppage, now in its 97th day.
“Absolutely,” Brouwer said. “If the players feel it’s necessary we’re allowed to take legal suit against the NHL for damages. We feel at this point we’re better off without being represented by the PA. The league said a few days ago that we’re pretending to dissolve the union. This is definitely an opportunity. But it’s what we feel suits us best as far as representing ourselves without a union.”
Brouwer said the players have been well-informed throughout the entire negotiating process and will be given instruction over the coming days on how to proceed.
“Everyone has the right to know what their livelihood is going to entail and what direction it’s going to go,” he said. “When you’re losing your salary and the way you pay your bills everyone has the right to know what our options are to make the most informed decision possible.”