CHICAGO - MAY 28: National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman speaks at a press conference at the United Center on May 28, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
(SB Nation) -- Efforts are underway in Quebec and Alberta to prevent the upcoming NHL lockout as NHL Players' Association members attempt to use labor law to block the league from locking out union members. It's unknown how these efforts, if successful, would affect a lockout across the United States and the rest of Canada.
In Quebec, the challenge hinges on the NHLPA's status as a union. The PA says that hey're not recognized as a union by the Quebec Labour Board, and according to the Montreal Gazette, an employer "cannot lock out employees unless they are represented by a union certified by the QLB." Should the law agree with the NHLPA's case, the NHL would not be allowed to lock out players who play in the province -- members of the Montreal Canadiens.
Habs players plan to make an application to the Quebec Labour Board this week, according to the Gazette, should the NHL "cease their threats" to lock out its players. The QLB could then order the NHL and the Canadiens to stop or end a lockout.
It's a bit different Alberta, but the NHLPA's goal is still the same: Block a lockout. The union argues, according to the Calgary Herald, that the NHL should not be able to hold a lockout vote in Alberta because they rushed through a legally-required mediation progress. The NHLPA says that because of this, the Alberta Labour Relations Board should rule that the NHL cannot lock out Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers players.
The Herald writes that a similar challenge was recent denied in Ontario.
There's no way to know at this point whether or not these legal challenges will work, or what impact they'll have in the United States or in other Canadian provinces. But there is one pretty glaring question: Why didn't the NHLPA try this back in 2004 when the NHL went through with a lockout?
The NHLPA attempted to get certified by the Quebec Labour Board in 2004, a move that would have stopped the Canadiens from using replacement players, but at the conclusion of that lockout in July 2005, the Gazette writes that the NHLPA withdrew their application.
The NHL at the time "formally opposed" the union's attempt to gain recognized status by the QLB, which is pretty ironic in hindsight. The shoe is now on the other foot for both sides this time as the NHLPA looks to use their lack of recognition by the QLB as a weapon against the owners' planned lockout.