The players just want to play, says the NHLPA (for the millionth time)

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If you haven’t heard, the NHLPA is willing to start the season without a new CBA.

We’re not sure how you wouldn’t have heard, unless you’ve been completely ignoring the current labor dispute between the players and the NHL.

All summer long the union has been banging the “players want to play, owners want a lockout” drum, and today the union reiterated its position.

This time, it was regarding the NHLPA’s efforts to convince labor boards in Quebec and Alberta to prevent the league from locking out the players once the CBA expires Saturday.

Speaking to reporters via conference call, Montreal defenseman Josh Gorges said the union is hoping to put pressure on the owners by asking the provincial labor boards to step in.

If the players are successful in their attempts, he expects members of the Canadiens, Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames to continue to have access to their teams’ rinks and practice facilities past Saturday.

Gorges also expects those players to continue getting paid. However, he wants to be clear that this isn’t an attempt to get paid. It’s to demonstrate that the players want to play.

Gorges hopes the labor boards will realize how important hockey is to Canadians, and also how many people would be negatively affected by a lockout.

The Montreal Gazette has the full audio of the conference call, which included Mathieu Darche.

The NHL hasn’t commented extensively on the issue.

“We will do what’s legally appropriate,” is all deputy commissioner Bill Daly would tell the USA Today.

As an aside, if you’re curious why the NHL wouldn’t want to start the season without a new CBA, read this post by “Offside: A Sports Law Blog.” (In a nutshell, it’s all about leverage.)