After the National Hockey League Players’ Association’s latest CBA proposal, presented to the owners on Wednesday, was rejected within hours, a new buzz word surfaced: decertification.
And veteran goaltender Ryan Miller is all for the drastic measure.
Though it would be a challenge to find a locked-out NHL player who isn’t exasperated at this point in the CBA negotiations, few have publicly offered their own ideas as to how the players can gain some ground in a costly game of chicken they appear to be losing.
Stressing that his opinions were his alone, Miller endorsed the idea of decertifying the union in an email to the The Globe and Mail, which appeared in an article Thursday evening.
“After watching the other sport leagues go through labour disputes last year, it is apparent that until decertification is filed, there will not be any real movement or negotiation,” Miller wrote to The Globe and Mail. “Many things in our negotiation are very consistent with the NFL and NBA negotiations, and both of those leagues filed papers necessary to decertify.
“It seems like the players in any league are going to be subjected to the same scripted labour dispute developed by (NHL and NBA law firm) Proskauer Rose in all collective bargaining discussions now and in the future. Decertification becomes part of the script because Gary Bettman and the owners are trying to get a sense of how far they can push us and at some point we have to say ‘enough.’
“They want to see if we will take a bad deal because we get desperate or if we have the strength to push back. Decertification is a push back and should show we want a negotiation and a fair deal on at least some of our terms.”
The newspaper reports that NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr and the union’s members discussed dissolving the PA in September, but the controversial tactic – one that brings an array of unpredictable consequences – was expected to be a last resort.
But after Wednesday’s proposal, which included what the players believed to be some major concessions to the owners, was squashed, several NHLers let their frustrations with the process show through Twitter and comments to the media.
“Gary bettman’s autobiography is in stores now. It’s titled ‘how I destroyed a sport and a nation’,” tweeted Brandon Prust of the Montreal Canadiens.
Not all the frustration was directed at the other side of the bargaining table, though.
Two Washington Capitals, Roman Hamrlik and Michal Neuvirth, have since questioned the union’s direction as the lockout is expected to result in the announcement of more cancelled games as early as Friday.
The 32-year-old Miller, who is signed through 2013-14 and earns $6.25 million per season with the Buffalo Sabres, told the Globe that he wants to continue the labour fight with the goal of strengthening the players’ bargaining position in the future.
“I am tired of the disregard and the ego,” Miller said. “Our fans and sponsors are alienated, and this is hurting the game. This process has more of the appearance of brand suicide than a negotiation.”
More focused on saving the league than what remains of the 2012-13 season, Miller is all in favour of decertification.