What would decertification mean to the NHL?

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With the CBA talks seemingly stalled once again and the threat of losing the 2012-13 season entirely looking very real, the players and the media have started to bring up the possibility of the NHLPA decertifying.

So…what does that mean exactly? Well, basically that the union would cease to be, but of course, the potential impact of that move is very difficult to gauge.

Explaining decertification beyond that isn’t a task suited for those without an extensive understanding of the laws involved. Fortunately Gabe Feldman, who is the director of Tulane Law School’s sports law program, recently spoke to CBC’s Elliotte Friedman and gave a thorough analysis of what this all might mean.

Here are the Cliff Notes (the full article can be found here):

  • By dissolving the union, the players can file an anti-trust lawsuit and argue that the lockout is now an illegal group boycott.
  • On the flip side, the players would no longer be protected by labor laws, so in that regard they will have exposed themselves “to the mercy of NHL owners.” For example, without the NHLPA, things like health benefits, the minimum salary, and even guaranteed contracts could be impacted.
  • If the players decertify and then lose the subsequent legal battle, then they will have “lost all leverage.”
  • The NHL will likely attempt to counter the union decertifying by claiming that it’s “just a sham and should not be recognized.”
  • Finally, with regards to the chances of the players being successful if they decertify and take the NHL to court, Feldman said: “If somebody’s telling you they know, they are either delusional or lying to you.”

Related:

Daly says decertification “would likely lead to the end of the season”

Ryan Miller thinks NHLPA should decertify

Specter of decertification looms over lockout