So What the Heck is Decertification?

With CBA talks once again breaking down, all the talk has been about the NHLPA decertifying. But what the heck does that actually mean?

Jeffrey Kleiman at Punch Drunk Love tries to break it down for us…

What is decertification?
In simple terms, this is when a union ceases to exist. There are many layers to this and it’s a very complicated process. First, the players would have to petition within their own union to decertify. There must be 33% of players who petition to decertify. Once there are enough players who petition to decertify, it goes up to a vote within the union. If a majority votes in favor of decertification, then paperwork is filed with the National Labor Relations Board.  After the NLRB approves the paperwork, the NHLPA ceases to exist.

Why would the players decide to do this?
Good question. As of right now, since there is a player’s union, the collective bargaining agreement dictates how negotiating a new agreement is to take place. If there is no union, the courts could then be forced to rewrite a new CBA. Also, since the NHLPA no longer exists, it opens the league up to antitrust lawsuits. If it got this far through the courts, the NHL would have a tough time disputing the fact that they are a monopoly. The players also hope by doing this that the owners will cave and rush to get a new CBA in place before the case was brought before a judge. This is what happened last year in the NFL. The downfall to this would be that the NHLPA completely loses the PR battle and the owners see this as a slap in the face. They could take away all of the concessions they've made thus far in negotiations.

What would happen if the courts ruled in the players favor?
The short answer: Anarchy. Since there is no union, no CBA, and the courts have ruled the NHL in violation of antitrust laws, things that hockey fans have grown accustomed to, such as the NHL Draft, the salary cap, mandatory minimum and maximum dollar amounts on contracts, and roster limits would cease to exist. You could potentially see a kid who was slotted to be drafted in the second round sign with any team for an amount of money that would make one cringe. Teams could sign as many players as they wanted. In other words- the league would turn into the Wild, Wild West and there’s no sheriff to keep the law. The NHL would agree to a new CBA before it even got this far, but the sheer thought that this could happen send chills down my body.

For more decertification Q&A visit Punch Drunk Love.

…not exactly sure how this helps the players. To me it sounds like more of a negative. Having said that, status quo isn't working so why not mix it up a bit.

Tim Panaccio at CSN Philly feels it isn't worth the risk for the players.

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