NHL cancels more games plus All-Star Game, opinions on decertification, Ray Whitney and Don Cherry weight in on the lockout,  IIHF announces its 2013 Hall of Fame class, and another call for the NHL to return with replacement players.

CANADIAN PRESS (VIA TSN.CA): The NHL on Friday announced the cancellation of games from December 1 -14, as well as the cancellation of the 2013 NHL All-Star game, which was to be held January 27 in Columbus.

COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Cancellation of the All-Star Game means the loss of a potential $12 million to the Columbus economy. The earliest possible date for the ASG to be next held in Columbus is 2015.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No one should be surprised by the latest cancellations in the NHL schedule. The question now is, can the NHL & NHLPA work out a deal to prevent the loss of the remainder of the December schedule?

SPORTSNET.CA: NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly and NHLPA Special Counsel Steve Fehr talked about the possibility of the NHLPA using decertification as a tactic to end the lockout. Daly said the idea doesn’t scare him, but cautioned if the PA went through with the move, it would bring about the cancellation of the entire season. Fehr, meanwhile, wouldn’t comment as to how much research and preparation the NHLPA had made regarding decertification.  Both men engaged in the usual talking points regarding their respective positions in this lockout, with Fehr saying he doesn’t expect the current break in talks to continue much longer. The two sides remains in contact, though no formal negotiations have been schedule.

Michael Grange, meanwhile, spoke with NBA player agent Bill Duffy, who advocates the PA decertify. Grange, however, points out the length of time it would take for the PA to staff that process, let alone begin filing lawsuits against the league, as well as the potential risks for the players.

“To formally decertify 30 percent of NHLPA members – about 210 players – would have to sign a petition in support of a decertification vote.

That petition would have to be provided to the NLRB. After 45 days the players could vote on decertifying and if a simple majority were in favour the union would be disbanded. Only then would NHL players be able to begin to take legal action against the league.

A spokesman with the NHLPA said that they haven’t gathered signatures.”

He does point out that such a move would “inject a massive does of uncertainty” into the labor dispute, diminishing the owners’ control over the outcome.

CBC.CA: Elliotte Friedman spoke with Tulane law school professor (and director of its sports law program) Gabe Feldman, who provides some answers regarding the pros and cons of decertification for the players, the league’s reaction, and the chances of success (based on efforts by players unions in other sports leagues employing that tactic).

“In order to [win damages], you have to prove irreparable harm” Tulane told Friedman. “It might be harder because so many are playing abroad,” he said. “In the NFL, there was no alternative. In the NBA there’s some, and the NHL some. Owners can argue they are being paid in another league.”

“Now, the players’ response would be it’s not the same as the NHL. Plus, they have short careers with risk of injury; those careers are harmed if the lockout continues.”

Dan Oldfield (lead negotiator for the Canadian media guild) believes decertification would be a bad idea, citing two fundamental problems:

“First, the relationship between the players and the league also includes retired players, and some players not on NHL rosters. It involves pensions, player health care, insurance, and a variety of other mutual benefits. Not all of them could be dealt with on the basis of individual contracts.

But the more practical problem is the time it would take to accomplish anything meaningful.”

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Ken Campbell considers decertification a “dangerous move” for the players, citing TSN sports legal analyst Eric Macramalla, who said the league could argue in court decertification was a sham.

“(I)t’s akin to switching a light switch on and off. ‘I’m a union, but now it’s no longer convenient, so I hit the light switch and I’m no longer a union.’ So their argument will be that it’s a sham designed to extract leverage in CBA negotiations and for no other reasons.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s possible the PA might go that route, but as I’ve previously noted, I don’t believe the players are ready to do so just yet. Indeed, given Steve Fehr’s comments that the PA still wants to negotiate and his anticipation the current break in talks won’t last long, I daresay the decertification card, while moving up in the players short deck of options, isn’t at the top at this point.

Ray Whitney compares NHL owners to “schoolyard bullies”.

ESPN.COM: Ray Whitney, a veteran of three lockouts and a players strike, doesn’t have kind words for NHL owners, equating them to “schoolyard bullies”.

TORONTO STAR: Don Cherry lashed out at the players, usin’ plenty of apostrophes in gettin’ his point across!

 OTTAWA SUN: Don Brennan has lost patience with the lockout and calls for the NHL to return with replacement players to give fans something to cheer for.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I refer you to my October 3, 2012 Soapbox post on the subject of replacement players and why that’s not gonna happen.

 IIHF.COM: The IIHF announced its 2013 inductees to its Hall of Fame, including Peter Forsberg, Mats Sundin, Danielle Goyette and Paul Henderson.