If these strange legal challenges end up holding water, the Northwest Division will become the most competitive in the National Hockey League.
(SB Nation) -- In a rather intriguing developing, efforts appear to be underway in Quebec and Alberta to prevent the upcoming NHL lockout as NHL Players' Association members attempt to use provincial labour law to block the league from locking out union members. It's unknown how these efforts, if successful, would affect a lockout of the 27 NHL teams not named the Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers, and Montreal Canadiens.
In Quebec, the challenge hinges on the NHLPA's status as a union. The PA says that they're not recognized as a union by the Quebec Labour Board, and, according to the Montreal Gazette, an employer "cannot lock out employees unless they are represented by a union certified by the QLB." Should the law agree with the NHLPA's case, the NHL would not be allowed to lock out players who play in the province -- namely, members of the Canadiens.
According to the Gazette's report, Habs players plan to make an application to the QLB this week should the NHL not "cease their threats to lockout" its players. The QLB could then order the NHL and the Canadiens to stop or end a lockout.
It's a bit different Alberta, but the NHLPA's goal is still the same: Block a lockout. The union argues, according to the Calgary Herald, that the NHL failed to follow proper procedures in a legally-required mediation progress. The NHLPA says that because of this, the Alberta Labour Relations Board should rule that the NHL cannot lock out players from the Flames and Oilers.
It remains to be seen what these legal challenges, even if accepted, might have on the league's insistence that a lockout will happen if an agreement can't be reached by Sept. 15, when the current CBA officially expires. There have not as of yet been further reports of legal challenges in the two other Canadian provinces with NHL teams (Manitoba and British Columbia) or the American States with NHL organizations.