(The scheduled Tuesday morning hearing with the Alberta Labour Relations Board -- where the NHL Players' Association was to argue that locking out members of the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames would be unlawful -- ended up being cancelled Monday night, according to The Canadian Press, when the NHL withdrew its claim.)
But in a conference call on Monday, the NHLPA reiterated the latest maneuvre is nothing more than an attempt to go to training camp next week and continue to play in the hopes that a new collective agreement can be successfully negotiated during the season.
"We just want to do everything we can to show owners and fans we want to continue to play," said Montreal Canadiens defenceman Josh Gorges, who along with his former teammate Mathieu Darche conducted a conference call with reporters on Monday.
"A lockout should be a last resort, but the owners are treating it as their preferred option," Gorges said. "But players want to continue negotiating and get a deal that works for both sides.
"We're not doing this so players in Montreal can get salary. We're trying to put pressure on the owners' side to get a deal done."
No scheduled talks
Darche confirmed that as of Monday afternoon there were no scheduled talks between the NHL and NHLPA this week. The two sides have engaged in a few informal sessions since negotiations broke off on Aug. 31. The current CBA expires at 11:59 p.m. ET on Saturday.
Both sides have set its own agenda for this week. Between 250 and 300 players are expected to travel to New York for meetings with executive director Donald Fehr on Wednesday and Thursday. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman will conduct a board of governors meeting at its Manhattan offices on Thursday.
The players believe the Canadiens can't lock out their players because the NHLPA is not a certified union in Quebec and under the pronvince's law a union has to be certified in order for an employer to enact a lockout.
The NHLPA also filed a challenge with the Alberta Labour Relations Board last week. In Alberta, the NHL cannot hold a lockout vote unless a mediator is requested. The NHL had requested a mediator, but the NHLPA has argued that the league has not followed the necessary steps and has not exhibited a willingness to engage in mediation.
Last week, the province of Ontario turned down the NHLPA's request to mediate the differences between the two sides and gave the Ottawa Senators and Toronto Maple Leafs the go-ahead to lock-out their players.
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