NHL lockout update: Battle returns to court as CBA talks slow

Brad Penner-US PRESSWIRE

The NHLPA will again look for the authority to dissolve their union.

Much progress has has been made in NHL lockout talks over the last seven days or so, but with over another week to go until the league-implied Jan. 11 drop-dead date to save the 2012-13 season, nobody expected things to go smoothly all the way through an ultimate deal. As such, it appears talks have hit a snag this Thursday afternoon.

The NHL and NHLPA had planned on meeting face-to-face for another day of negotiations in New York City, but as of this writing have yet to do so in more than small groups. The players, meanwhile, have decided to vote again on whether or not to give their executive board the authority to file a disclaimer of interest. It's expected the vote will take place over the next 48 hours.

It's seen as a move to put pressure on the NHL to make a deal. When the NHLPA voted in favor of passing along this authority three weeks ago, with a deadline of Jan. 2 to file the disclaimer, it seemed to speed up talks. That deadline passed at midnight Wednesday, so the players giving their executive board the authority to file yet again could be a way to put pressure back on the NHL to make a deal sooner than later.

Meanwhile, remember that lawsuit the NHL filed several weeks ago, in which they looked to block the NHLPA's disclaimer of interest? The NHLPA has filed a motion to get that lawsuit dismissed.

Direct from the motion, which you can read here:

The NHL is using this suit in an attempt to force the players to remain in a union. Not only is it virtually unheard of for an employer to insist on the unionization of its employees, it is also directly contradicted by the rights guaranteed to employees under Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act.

The NHL’s gun-jumping suit is simply an attempt to have these issues decided in the forum of its choosing, which is an improper use of the declaratory judgment mechanism. For the foregoing reasons, Defendants respectfully request that the Court dismiss the Complaint in its entirety.

Neither of these legal maneuvers should force the complete breakdown of talks, and it's quite possible the sides return to the bargaining table later in the evening. But it's another wrinkle in the ongoing saga of the 2012-13 NHL lockout, now in its 110th day.

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