Oilers, Flames players say NHL lockout is illegal
EDMONTON, Alberta — Lawyers for players on the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames are trying to have the NHL lockout declared illegal under Alberta law.
The NHL has argued before the Alberta Labour Relations Board that a league spanning two countries can't operate under different laws for each team.
About a half dozen players attended the hearing, including Oilers forward Sam Gagner, goaltender Devan Dubnyk and veteran Ryan Smyth.
The lockout began last weekend, and some players already are signing with European teams for the season. There have been no formal talks between the two sides since Sept. 12. Training camps were to have opened Friday. The league already has canceled preseason games through Sept. 30.
NHLPA lawyer Bob Blair told the panel that the two teams are Alberta businesses, so provincial labor laws must be followed.
“No one gets to choose what labor laws apply to them in this province,” Blair said. “The law is the law is the law.”
He said players from the Oilers and Flames never agreed to forgo their rights under the Alberta Labour Code.
“It applies to every employer and employee,” he said. “That is the starting point.”
NHL lawyer Peter Gall pointed out that 23 of the 30 teams are in the United States and work under the same rules because labor laws there are federally regulated.
“So all of the players on all of the teams have been included in one bargaining unit,” Gall said. “The NHLPA has never bargained with individual teams. It has only bargained with the NHL.”
Bill Daly, the league's deputy commissioner, told the panel there never has been individual bargaining between players and their teams. He said it's important all teams operate under the same rules.
Blair countered by saying the way the league and union operated in the past is irrelevant.
It's unclear what might follow if the board were to rule in favor of the NHLPA's request, but Daly said he couldn't imagine the fallout if that were to happen.
“It would be extremely destabilizing to how we do business and how we conduct this sports league,” he said. “I don't know how we would proceed in the face of separate units in Alberta.”
Last week, players from the Montreal Canadiens launched a similar case in Quebec. The labor board there turned down their request for a temporary injunction against the lockout but also ruled that more hearings are needed to make a final decision on the application. No date for those hearings has been set.
The two sides remain far apart on key economic issues.
The NHL believes too much money is being paid in salaries and has proposed a system to address it. Its most recent offer called for the players' share in revenue to be set at 49 percent next season — down from 57 percent in the deal that expired last weekend — and proposed that it drops to 47 percent by the end of the six-year deal.
The union tabled an offer in which the salary cap would be set to fixed increases of 2 percent, 4 percent and 6 percent over the next three years. The system would then revert to a percentage-based system for the final two years.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Penguins notebook: Team pays tribute to Ottawa shooting victims
- Flyers continue mastery of Penguins at Consol
- Metropolitan Division holding own in early part of season
- Testing legs, giving backup goalie a chance are Penguins’ priorities
- Rossi: Fleury is, and will remain, Penguins’ soul
- Penguins equipment manager attends to multitude of details
- Penguins forward Downie becoming a hit with teammates
- Bortuzzo could provide much-needed physical presence for Penguins
- Penguins notebook: Newcomers get 1st taste of rivalry with Flyers
- Beefed-up Islanders could pose threat to Penguins
- Starkey: Penguins turn the page