You have to love a pair of glorified Public Relations statements representing billion dollar interests. Fans got a hint of what they can expect over the duration of the lockout on Friday night when both the NHL and NHLPA commented on the Quebec Labour Relations Board’s decision to deny the Players’ request for an immediate injunction to stop tonight’s lockout.
First up, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly on the ruling:
“We are pleased but not surprised with the Quebec Labour Board’s ruling tonight that any lockout of Players will be effective on a League-wide basis, including in Quebec, and we are extremely appreciative of the expeditious and decisive manner in which the matter was handled. We are hopeful that this ruling will cause the Players’ Association to cease pursuing these needless distractions and instead focus all of its efforts and energies on making progress at the bargaining table.”
So the Labour Board in Quebec ruled in favor of the league. Daly even went to the condescending “needless distractions” card in his statement—so it must have been a frivolous case in the first place. But wait, then we see this release from NHLPA General Counsel Don Zavelo:
“We are pleased with the ruling that the Commission released tonight. 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.”
So the league didn’t win the ruling? You know, if the Labour Board is still going to hear the case on its merits, it doesn’t exactly sound like a “needless distraction.” Then again, Daly called the lawsuits “a joke” only a few days ago, so this is part for the course.
For the players, they got into the dueling press release battle with their menacing, “it will do so at its own risk” line at the end of their statement. They were probably going to go with “or else,” but they wanted it to sound more professional.
Alright, so what does it mean? For now, nothing. The most noteworthy story of the entire ruling was that both sides claimed to the media that they “won” the ruling. For now, the Labour Board will not impose an immediate injunction and the lockout will go off as planned. Since the Board agreed to hear the case at a later date, it’ll give the owners (at least the Molson’s) something to think about while negotiating the next CBA. But really, it just means that we’re going to have to deal with days, weeks, and months more of these meaninglessly press statements.
If you don’t have time to read an entire press release during the lockout, just keep this in mind—every statement will be a variation of the same message: “we are trying to make this work, but the other side is being unreasonable.” Keep that in mind and you’ll save yourself a lot of time.