With negotiations between the NHL and its players at a virtual standstill, the players reportedly have taken their first step toward breaking from the union.
According to a tweet by former NHL defenseman and current TSN studio analyst Aaron Ward, the NHLPA’s executive board has given players the right to authorize a Disclaimer of Interest. To be clear, the NHLPA has not yet filed a Disclaimer of Interest, but may do so with the players' approval.
So, what does that mean to the average hockey fan who is growing increasingly impatient on Day 90 of the NHL lockout?
Essentially, a Disclaimer of Interest occurs when a union representative [executive director Don Fehr] terminates the union’s right to represent the players. This allows individual players to sue the league for antitrust violations.
Can a Disclaimer of Interest help bring resolution to a labor dispute?
It did in the case of the NBA last season, when the players’ union disclaimed interest, forging a settlement within two weeks.
There are risks, however. The NHL could argue in court that the Disclaimer of Interest was implemented with the sole purpose of the players gaining leverage in negotiations.
Either way, the players’ move toward dissolving the union dispels any thoughts of a settlement within the next few days and makes the cancellation of the entire season more likely than at any time in these negotiations.