NHLPA files charge about player release negotiations

Updated: November 4, 2008, 11:50 PM ET
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- The NHL players' association on Tuesday filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board regarding negotiations with clubs over European player releases.

The latest move by the union followed notification that it lost a grievance challenging the NHL's institution of defected player status on drafted and unsigned European players.

That came about because of a lack of an International Ice Hockey Federation transfer agreement between the NHL and hockey federations in some European countries.

The filing of the charge with the NLRB was confirmed by union spokesman Jonathan Weatherdon. The NHLPA declined to comment further because of the ongoing legal matter.

The New York Post first reported the union's action Tuesday on its Web site.

In the last collective bargaining agreement between the NHL and the players' association, the union fought for European players to have the same rights as their North American counterparts.

The union's loss of the grievance gives teams permanent rights to these European players as long as there is a lack of an IIHF transfer agreement between the NHL and international hockey federations. The NHLPA is trying to avoid reverting to a time when the NHL controlled the rights of European players forever.

The charge by the players' association against the NHL said: "Since on or about June 26, 2008, [the NHL] has failed and refused to bargain with the NHLPA over a mandatory subject of bargaining by unilaterally implementing a rule substantially modifying and restricting the manner in which players under contract to European Clubs may gain employment [in the NHL], without first providing notice to, or bargaining to agreement or good-faith impasse with the NHLPA," the New York Post reported.

Testimony by NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly was crucial in the NHLPA losing its grievance. Daly and former union executive director Ted Saskin agreed in a letter on July 22, 2005, to temporarily adopt defected player status for Europeans since an IIHF transfer agreement wasn't in place.

That agreement expired and the union didn't want to extend it, but the NHL sent a memo on May 19 to the 30 general managers to advise them that it was putting the defected players status back in effect, the Post said.


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