Commentary, opinion and news on the world of hockey.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Labour impasse - reality or dream?


The NHL and PA can't agree on anything. They can't even agree to disagree and end the season. The next few days will probably, hopefully, bring with it the end of the season. And thank God for that.

And if that happens, many speculate that the NHL is headed directly for a meeting with the Labour Relations Board. The end goal? Break the union and use replacement players. Some say that it won't be that easy - especially in Canada - as labour laws differ from province to province. But is that really the case?

Here's a good read from the CP. What I find most interesting is the comments of sources who are presumably in the know: replacement players in Canada may not even be an issue.
Quebec labour ministry spokeswoman Michele Poirot says NHL players aren't covered under the province's labour code. And the same goes in B.C., where the NHLPA isn't certified as a union, says provincial labour ministry spokesman Graham Currie.
Is it really that cut and dry? Well, probably not. The NHL would have to declare an impasse and argue their grievences in front of a Labour Board (or more than one), and who knows how that would work out. I don't profess to be a labour lawyer, but I know that the legal fight would be long and messy.

And if it goes that far, relations between owners and players would be at an all-time low. And that's not to mention the estranged relationship between the NHL and the fans. Would the fans ever come back? Could the NHL recover from these type of proceedings?

One thing may become clear after tomorrow: It's going to get much worse before it gets any better.

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