NHLPA Hopes Lockout Challenges In Quebec, Alberta Put Pressure Owners

The NHLPA doesn't seem to think that legal challenges against the NHL lockout in Quebec and Alberta will actually prevent a work stoppage Saturday, but they do hope that a legal win in those Canadian provinces could put pressure on NHL owners to come to a deal more quickly.

In Quebec, the NHLPA says that the Canadiens cannot lock out union members because the Quebec Labour Board does not recognize the union. The union has threatened to file a grievance with the QLB this week if the league does not rescind the threat of a lockout. In Alberta, a similar issue could lead to a lockout challenge with the Alberta Labour Relations Board.

Speaking on a conference call Monday afternoon, Montreal Canadiens defenseman Josh Gorges spoke on behalf of both his Habs teammates and the rest of the union membership on the pending legal challenges.

"Even though there may only be three teams that are involved in this," Gorges said, "it may put pressure on other teams to say, 'You know what? These guys are getting ready, they're practicing, they're getting themselves ready to play. Maybe we should have our players doing the same sort of things.'

"It's unfortunate that it's not the same sort of laws in every city, but I think it gives us an opportunity to put pressure on the owners to try and get a deal done so other teams can join us and we can start playing on time."

The NHLPA doesn't expect the challenges to fully stop a lockout, even if successful. After all, only three teams -- the Canadiens in Quebec, the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers in Alberta -- would be affected if each respective labor board rules in favor of the union.

But Gorges' point is still strong. If the two labor boards rule that Canadiens, Flames and Oilers players can use practice facilities, meet with coaches and carry on in preparation for the season, other owners might feel that those teams are getting an unfair advantage. Theoretically, it could put pressure on the owners and the league to get a deal done faster.

That's the NHLPA's hope, anyway.

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