I'm putting together an overview on decertification and how it applies in the context of these NHL CBA talks.
Before I get that out, here's a real quick hit on the bottom line as it relates to decertification.
It’s unlawful for competitors to get together and fix the marketplace. If they do so, they open themselves up to antitrust lawsuits. This applies to the NHL, because the 30 team owners are competitors and they get together and place restrictions on the NHL marketplace. Things like a salary cap, free agency restrictions and rookie pay are all on their face antitrust violations. Another thing that is an antitrust violation: the owners getting together and agreeing to lockout the players.
However, since these restrictions are inside the protective bubble that is the collective bargaining agreement (CBA), the NHL is protected and the players can’t sue for these antitrust violations.
That all changes though if the players decertify. By decertifying, the NHL players blow up the NHLPA and revoke the NHLPA’s authority to bargain on their behalf.
Suddenly, the CBA exception protecting the NHL against antitrust lawsuits may no longer apply and players are now free to sue the NHL for its antitrust violations. The first antitrust violation they would tackle in court is to have the illegal boycott that is the NHL lockout declared unlawful and lifted.
The players hope that the threat of antitrust litigation will encourage the NHL to settle on more favourable terms.