Cold war gets chillier

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 9:10 AM ET

The war between the NHL and its players' association has started to escalate, the Sun has learned. Multiple league sources told the Sun last night that the NHLPA has filed an ''unfair labour practices'' charge against the NHL for its failure to provide a list of locked out players.

Sources say the union requested the list in a letter to the league dated Sept. 20 because there was confusion among the players on which players are locked out.

Upset with getting a terse response from the league -- that indicated the union had a better chance of figuring out which players are locked out -- the NHLPA filed a grievance with the U.S. National Labour Relations Board on Tuesday.

Sources say the league could face sanctions or fines if the U.S. agency rules the NHL is not negotiating fairly. The NLRB could also force the NHL to provide the list.

'OCEANS APART'

''I guess what this shows is that these two sides are just oceans apart,'' a league source said last night. ''They're not getting any closer, they're only drifting farther apart, and that's not good news for anybody hoping to see hockey this year.

''The league basically sent them a response saying that since the union has kept all its staff on during the lockout, then they should have enough employees to figure out which players are affected (by the lockout). The league basically refused to supply the list because they claimed they didn't have the people on staff.''

With NHL teams allowed to send players to the minors, it's believed the union was simply trying to ensure that all eligible players have been sent down and have the opportunity to hone their skills.

In July, NHL vice-president Bill Daly sent a memo to all 30 teams indicating they were free to do whatever they want to with players on entry-level contracts. Most have been sent to the AHL.

SILENCE

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman announced Sept. 15 that training camps were cancelled and players won't be allowed back to work until a new collective bargaining agreement is in place.

No talks between the two sides have been held since the lockout began

On Tuesday, Bettman told a CBC audience that there was no sense having any talks with the union because the players needed time for ''sober'' second thoughts.

''The league has an obligation to give the players this list,'' another NHL source said. ''There's just no common ground and something like this isn't going to help the bad blood between these two sides.

''It would be catastrophic for both sides if they lost the season, but I can tell you this is not looking good and we're only a week into it.''

bruce.garrioch@ott.sunpub.com


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