The National Hockey League pressed a legal case against the players union on Friday amid talk players would vote to disband the union as a tactic in the money dispute that has shut down the NHL.
Club owners filed a complaint against the players union in federal court and an unfair practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board after being told players would be asked to vote to “disclaim interest” in the union.
US anti-trust laws prevent locking out employees who do not belong to a union, but if they decertify the union, it allows players to file anti-trust lawsuits against owners, a potential major financial hit to the owners.
The move could pave the way for a lengthy court battle, although such moves in money disputes between American football and NBA owners and players have been more of a leverage tactic in negotiations than a serious move for action.
In the meantime, the league has called off 526 games through December 30, as well as the annual Winter Classic outdoor game and All-Star Game, while many NHL players have joined European teams as they wait to see if a shortened season will be played.
Both sides have been deadlocked on how to divide $3.3 billion in revenue since their collective bargaining agreement expired on September 15.