The NHL Players' Association was denied its request for an immediate injunction against an impending lockout by the Quebec Labour Relations Board on Friday, but the board plans to continue to hear the case, ESPN New York reported.
The players were prompted to make the case that any lockout imposed by the league would be illegal since their union is not recognized as certified under Quebec labor law.
The board held an emergency hearing Friday morning on behalf of 16 players from the Montreal Canadiens who made the filing. It later rejected the players request to delay any work stoppage imposed by the league's owners.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has said the league intends to lock out the players if a new collective bargaining agreement can be reached by midnight ET Saturday when the current one expires. Owners unanimous voted to support a lockout.
"We are pleased with the ruling that the Commission released tonight," NHLPA general counsel Don Zavelo said in a statement. "While the Commission denied the players' request for emergency relief, it also rejected the NHL's request to dismiss the case. The ruling acknowledges that the players have raised issues about the legality of the NHL's planned lockout that require a full hearing on the merits.
"We remain confident that the lockout is prohibited by the Quebec Labour Code and look forward to presenting our case to the Commission in the near future. Should the NHL carry out its threat to lock out the players in Quebec, it will do so at its own risk."
The players are still looking for other means of stalling the lockout. Several Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames players appealed to the Alberta Labour Relations Board to challenge a work stoppage. The board confirmed that a meeting will be held on Sept. 21.