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NHLPA files legal papers, preps for re-vote on disclaimer as negotiations take back seat

The NHL Players' Association appears to be prepping for a legal battle.

The union filed a memorandum of law (Download NHLPA Memorandum of Law) in U.S. District Court in New York today. It asks the court to dismiss a complaint made last month by the NHL that would have the lockout declared legal and prevent the players' association from filing a disclaimer of interest.

"The NHL is using this suit in an attempt to force the players to remain in a union," the NHLPA wrote in its memorandum, which was obtained by sports legal analyst Eric Macramalla. "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."

Reports say the NHLPA had until Jan. 7 to respond to the league's lawsuit, which was filed Dec. 14.

The move comes as the players' association is set to begin a membership re-vote. The players overwhelmingly voted last month to allow union officials to file a disclaimer of interest, which would essentially dissolve the NHLPA and open the league to antitrust lawsuits. The right to disclaim expired at midnight without Executive Director Donald Fehr using the option.

With talks at a standstill today -- the sides were scheduled to meet with a federal mediator at 10 a.m. but the union declined -- NHLPA leaders are again asking for the right to disclaim.

RDS in Quebec reports the vote will begin at 6 p.m. and last for 48 hours.

The sides are free to negotiate during the vote, but they did not during the orginal process, which took five days. Commissioner Gary Bettman wants to have a collective bargaining agreement in place Jan. 11 in order to start a 48-game season Jan. 19.

---John Vogl

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John Vogl

John Vogl

John Vogl has been covering the Sabres since 2002-03, an era that has included playoff runs, last-place finishes and three ownership changes. The award-winning writer is the Buffalo chapter chairman for the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association.

@BuffNewsVogl | jvogl@buffnews.com

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Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington, a Canisius College graduate who began his career as a News reporter in 1987, has been covering the Buffalo Sabres since 2007. He is a member of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association and can vouch that exposed flesh freezes instantly when walking in downtown Winnipeg in January.

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Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz, a native of Lockport, has a bachelor’s degree in journalism/mass communication from St. Bonaventure University and a master’s degree in humanities from the University at Buffalo. An endurance athlete, she has completed several triathlons, half marathons and marathons.

@amymoritz | amoritz@buffnews.com

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