Reaction and analysis over the NHLPA’s approval vote for disclaimer of interest and more.

ESPN.COM: Katie Strang reports the NHLPA membership overwhelmingly approved giving its executive permission to file disclaimer of interest by a vote of 706 – 22. The executive board now has until January 2, 2013 to file its disclaimer. Pierre LeBrun believes the vote indicates the strong solidarity among the players behind its leadership, but wonders if the executive will file the disclaimer.

NATIONAL POST: Sean Fitzgerald interviewed Nathaniel Grow, “an assistant professor at the Terry College of Business at the University of Georgia”, about this latest development. Grow said he’d be surprised if the PA followed through with litigation, rather than using the threat of disclaimer as a leverage tactic in CBA negotiations. He still feels there will be an NHL season.

NBC SPORTS PRO HOCKEY TALK: cited a tweet from Sportsnet’s John Shannon indicating the NHL and NHLPA are unlikely to meet this weekend.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t expect any talk – formal or back-channel – to occur until after Christmas. Yes, I know both sides have publicly stated their willingness to resume talks over the Christmas holiday, and undoubtedly there are folks on both sides trying to push that issue, but I don’t see the main participants having any desire to do so. They’re still engaged in their game of “chicken”, and I don’t expect anyone blinks until January 2…if at all.

Samuelsson accused NHL owners of unfairness in CBA talks.

Samuelsson accused NHL owners of unfairness in CBA talks.

MLIVE.COM: Detroit Red Wings forward Mikael Samuelsson accused the NHL owners of “playing dirty” in CBA talks and questioned if they want to do a deal.

NORTHJERSEY.COM: New Jersey governor Chris Christie believes the NHL lockout is bad for the city of Newark, home of the Devils, blaming the league leadership for its handling of CBA negotiations.

DENVER POST: Adrian Dater rips NHL commissioner Gary Bettman after discovering an NHL employee will have to go on food stamps because of the lockout.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: NHL employees aren’t the only ones suffering from this lockout. Check out my recent Soapbox. Many folks who on the NHL for their livelihood (who aren’t as wealthy as owners, or as well paid as players, coaches, management and league leadership) are feeling the pinch. This madness has to stop soon, but the owners and players apparently remain determined to kill their golden goose.

CBC.CA: A helpful graphic showing the number of games lost under Gary Bettman and Donald Fehr. Hockey Night in Canada personality Don Cherry, meanwhile, still believes there will be an NHL season starting in January.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: From your lips, Don, to God’s ear.

TORONTO STAR: Damien Cox is pleased the posturing between the NHL and NHLPA is coming to a head, which will either save or kill the season. “Yes or no. Play or don’t play. Decide. We, the hockey community at large, can live with either choice, as has been proven in recent months.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I rely on the NHL for my livelihood so I would obviously prefer if they return to action in January, but given all the BS of the past four months, I’m no longer optimistic they will, and quite frankly, I’m tired of waiting for the two sides to decide this season’s fate. Cox is right about the weariness the hockey community feels about this lockout. Just decide, stop dragging this out. Play or don’t play. Save the season or kill it.  If you kill it, the sooner they can get into the courts, get their legal wranglings over with, and return hopefully for a full 2013-14 season. I’ll feel the pinch financially, but I’ll survive. Those who don’t rely on the league for a living will then have to decide if the NHL is even worthwhile coming back to, and of those who do, a number of them may never see the league the same way again.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Adam Proteau suggests a 48-game NHL schedule could magnify some of the league’s contentious issues, such as the effect of the “loser point” in overtime/shootouts on the league standings, and the effect of obstruction calls on the games.

THE GLOBE AND MAIL: James Mirtle, on the other hand, sees the benefits of a shortened season, as the games would have more meaning and thus become more competitive, compared to the grind of an 82-game schedule.

Ken Dryden believes there needs to be more study into the effects of concussions upon athletes, particularly hockey players, in order to better protect them from such injuries at all levels.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Good points by Proteau and Mirtle regarding a shortened schedule. It’ll certainly be an interesting season if the NHL does return to action by late-January.

 As for Dryden’s column, this isn’t the first time he’s addressed the issue of head trauma in hockey. As always, he makes great points, and it appears the hockey world is paying more attention to the dangers of concussions, especially in youth hockey. Sadly, the NHL continues to drag its feet. When even the sidelining of the league’s most marketable star results in little change regarding concussions, you know it’s going to take years for the NHL to seriously address the issue.

SPORTSNET.CA: San Jose Sharks star Logan Couture enjoyed his time playing in Switzerland, but has no plans on returning. . “I just felt I was ready to come play back here, and I was hoping there was going to be a resolution quickly, and I missed being home.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Couture and a number of other North American players got a taste during this lockout of what their European counterparts go through when they play in the NHL, or other North American hockey leagues, for the first time. The culture shock and language barriers are daunting. Some, like Joe Thornton and Rick Nash, proved during the last lockout they could cope and adjust. For others, it can be too difficult.

LA PRESSE: A heartwarming Christmas story of how NHL defenseman Hal Gill helped a little girl in Montreal who was suffering from a brain tumor.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: After all the crappy news from the NHL world of late, it’s nice to end this morning headlines with an uplifting story. Bless you, Hal Gill, and for Gabrielle Côté-Bleau, my wish for a long, healthy, happy life.