MONTREAL — The NHL Players’ Association and the National Hockey League are scheduled to square off again in December at Quebec’s labour relations board.
The Commission des relations du travail rejected a request in September from the NHLPA and 16 Montreal Canadiens players for a provisional order to prevent the league and the team from locking out the Habs.
But Judge Andrée St-Georges also stated the parties would be called to a hearing on the merits of the question.
The hearing is scheduled for Dec. 6 and 7.
“The NHL tried to delay it into January and February and we tried to get earlier dates for our sort of obvious reasons,” said Alexandra Dagg, the NHLPA’s director of operations, who added the board sets the dates.
Asked what it would accomplish if the players’ association is successful but players on other NHL teams are still locked out, Dagg said: “If we prevail we’ll have to sort of figure out what the next steps are.”
But essentially what they’re seeking, she said, is that since the Canadiens players are residents in Quebec, “we think the Quebec laws apply to them and that’s the case we’re going to be making.”
“We don’t think it’s just theoretical.”
“Will it help settle this lockout? Probably not. But we think there are certain principles that are worth fighting for and continuing to try to put forward here.”
The NHLPA and Canadiens’ players filed the application a few days before the collective bargaining agreement expired on Sept. 15. They asked the board to declare that a lockout against Canadiens players would violate Quebec’s labour code. They maintain that an employer in Quebec can’t lock out employees unless they belong to a union that is certified by the province’s labour relations board, which isn’t the case with the NHLPA.
Lawyers for the NHL and the Canadiens argued that the province’s labour code didn’t apply to the case and noted that the players’ association has negotiated with the league under the National Labor Relations Act in the United States for 45 years.
When the board rejected the players’ request for a provisional order, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said in a statement: “We are hopeful that this ruling will cause the Players’ Association to cease pursuing these needless distractions and instead focus all of its efforts and energies on making progress at the bargaining table.”
The players’ association also challenged the legality of the NHL lockout in Alberta. The province’s labour relations board dismissed its application earlier this month, but the players’ association is appealing the decision.
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