It doesn't look like the talks between either side in the NHL/NHLPA negotiations are willing to budge to get a CBA hammered out. The CBA expires on September 15th, and the owners have been more than clear that should no solution get drawn up by then that the start of training camps and the season will be delayed until that solution is completed.
The players, on the other hand, have offered to play regardless of completion of a new CBA. This'd obviously be beneficial to them as they'd get paid, but it would be beneficial to the owners as they'd make money. This offer fell on deaf ears, so now the players are exploring legal means to take to the ice after September 15th. Today the NHL's owners received a cease and desist letter from the Montreal Canadiens's lawyer Michael Cohen. The reasoning behind it? Quebec provincial law. The law states that businesses have no legal right to lock out employees in the province unless the employees are represented by a union certified by the Quebec Labour Board. The NHLPA isn't a certified labor union.
The NHLPA, according to Dave Stubbs of the Montreal Gazette, are within their rights to apply to the QLB to prevent the Habs and the NHL from locking the players out. If the board agrees, then the NHL will be in violation of Quebec law. It's not just Quebec law that could be used, either. From Stubbs' article:
In Alberta, the NHLPA filed a challenge last Friday with the Alberta Labour Relations Board regarding the Edmonton Oilers’ and Calgary Flames’ request to hold a “lockout vote,” as it’s known.
This vote is required if owners of the two Alberta teams can legally lock out their players.
Both the NHL and NHLPA are in disagreement with some of the mechanics involved, including use of a mediator.
The NHLPA is arguing that the NHL,“in their headlong rush toward a lockout on Sept. 15, has flouted … rules and should not be permitted to hold a lockout vote.”
Should the Alberta Labour Board agree with the union, the NHL would not, the PA says, be able to legally lock out Oilers and Flames players.
Is this last ditch? Possibly. Does it have a chance to seriously complicate things for the owners? Absolutely.