NHL players will continue the process of determining whether they will dissolve their union when they begin voting Sunday on whether to give the executive board the option to file a disclaimer of interest.
All members of the NHL Players' Association will participate in the voting electronically, ESPNNewYork.com reported Saturday. The process is expected to take up to five days.
A two-thirds majority is needed for passage. If that happens, the Players' Association would have until Jan. 2, 2013, to file the disclaimer.
According to ESPNNewYork.com, a disclaimer of interest is a quicker means of decertifying the union that would allow them to file an antitrust lawsuit against the league in court. However, such a move would be somewhat of a risk because the players would lose collective-bargaining rights and union protection.
The players' move is in response to the NHL filing a class-action complaint in New York Federal Court to uphold the lockout and an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board.
The NHL's complaint called the union's threat of a filing a disclaimer a ploy.
"The union has threatened to pursue this course not because it is defunct or otherwise incapable of representing NHL players for purposes of collective bargaining, nor because NHL players are dissatisfied with the representation they have been provided by the NHLPA," the NHL complaint said. "The NHLPA's threatened decertification or disclaimer is nothing more than an impermissible negotiating tactic, which the union incorrectly believes would enable it to commence an antitrust challenge to the NHL's lockout."
The union said the NHL's actions are "completely without merit."
"The NHL appears to be arguing that players should be stopped from even considering their right to decide whether or not to be represented by a union," the Players' Association said in a statement Friday. "We believe that their position is completely without merit."
The lockout has reached 91 days and forced the cancellation of games through Dec. 30.
NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told ESPNNewYork.com that he hasn't been in touch with the Players' Association.
"Don't know what next step is," he said. "Time will tell."
No further talks are scheduled after the sides met with a federal mediator this week.