The NHL Players’ Association is attempting to prevent its players from being locked out in Quebec by having the action declared illegal.
The union and 16 members of the Montreal Canadiens filed an application in Montreal on Wednesday morning with the Quebec Labour Relations Board to stop the NHL from freezing its players out.
Generally speaking, employers in Quebec cannot lockout employees who are not members of a certified union, which applies to players because the NHLPA is not certified in the province.
The application is going to an emergency hearing at 10:30 Friday morning in Montreal.
"The players on the Montreal Canadiens simply want the labour laws of Quebec upheld, so that we can continue to play hockey while we work towards reaching a fair contract with the NHL," Canadiens veteran Josh Gorges said.
"It’s unfortunate that it’s not the same laws in every city, but I think it gives us an opportunity to put pressure on the owners to try to get a deal done so that other teams can join us and we can start playing on time."
The NHLPA has pursued somewhat similar action in Alberta for players with the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers, contesting that the mediation process required by that province’s Labour Relations Code was not followed properly in terms of implementing a lockout.
The belief is these legal manoeuvres may allow players to be paid even as the league locks out the remaining 27 teams, 23 of which are based in the United States where such action isn’t possible.
The moves have been a contentious part of negotiations between the two sides this week, with NHL deputy commissioner calling the applications "a joke."
The NHL is expected to lock out its 30 teams on Saturday night at 11:59 p.m. when the current collective bargaining agreement expires.