NHL players will begin voting Sunday on whether they'll grant their executive board the authority to dissolve the NHL Players' Association.
Two-thirds of the union's membership must vote in favour of allowing the executive board to file a "disclaimer of interest," according to a source.
Votes will be cast electronically over a five-day period that ends Thursday.
Should players vote in favour of allowing the 30-member executive board to file a disclaimer, it would have until Jan. 2 to do so.
The union continued to move towards dissolving even after the league started mounting a legal challenge against it.
On Friday, the NHL filed a class-action complaint which asked a federal court in New York to make a declaration on the legality of the lockout.
'Disclaimer of interest'
Labour expert Dan Oldfield explains what a "disclaimer of interest" is and why it's not necessarily a good option for NHL players.
In the 43-page complaint, the league argued the NHLPA was only considering the "disclaimer of interest" to "extract more favourable terms and conditions of employment."
"The union has threatened to pursue this course not because it is defunct or otherwise incapable of representing NHL players for purposes of collective bargaining, nor because NHL players are dissatisfied with the representation they have been provided by the NHLPA," read the NHL complaint.
"The NHLPA's threatened decertification or disclaimer is nothing more than an impermissable negotiating tactic, which the union incorrectly believes would enable it to commence an antitrust challenge to the NHL's lockout."
The NHL also filed an unfair labour practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board.
The union was quick to issue a statement on Friday night that claimed the NHL was overstepping its bounds.
"The NHL appears to be arguing that players should be stopped from even considering their right to decide whether or not to be represented by a union," it read. "We believe that their position is completely without merit."
By filing the class-action complaint in New York, the league guaranteed that the legality of the lockout would be decided in a court known to be sympathetic towards management. If the NHLPA dissolves it will seek to have the work stoppage deemed illegal — something that could see players paid triple their lost salary in damages if successful.
The NHL's collective bargaining talks have dragged on for more than five months. The sides spent two days with a U.S. federal mediator in New Jersey this week and don't currently have any further talks scheduled.