NEW YORK, March 27 -- The NHL filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board, claiming that a players' association policy that would penalize members who became replacements is coercive and in violation of their rights.
The league and the union have been unable to hammer out a new collective bargaining agreement, and the lockout that was imposed by the NHL in September forced the cancellation of the entire hockey season.
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_____ From The Post _____ • Mario Lemieux and Wayne Gretzky take part in six-hour meeting between NHL and players' union but no deal is reached.
• Commissioner Gary Bettman officially cancels the NHL season.
• There is speculation about where the league goes from here and whether it can survive.
• Michael Wilbon: There's no question the league and its owners won this particular battle.
• The cancellation may work to the Capitals' advantage in time.
• Q&A: What's next?
_____ On Our Site _____ • Audio: The Post's Thomas Heath discusses the end of the season.
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_____ Lockout At a Glance _____ • NO SEASON: The NHL season was canceled Feb. 16 over a lockout that started before training camps opened last September. It's the first major North American sport to lose an entire season to a labor dispute.
• THE REASON: The NHL and the players' association couldn't resolve how to split revenues from the $2 billion industry. The league demanded a salary cap, but by the time the players agreed to that, it was too late to work out how much the cap would be.
• WHAT'S NEXT?: The NHL could seek the declaration of an impasse, which allowing it to implement its last offer, open training camps in September and invite players back. The players' association would likely respond with a strike.
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If a new deal can't be reached in time for next season, the NHL said it would explore the use of replacement players.
Union members currently receive between $5,000 and $10,000 per month during the lockout.
"The practice of conditioning the receipt of work stoppage benefits on a player's agreement not to return to the NHL without a new CBA was coercive, and in violation of the player's rights under the labor laws," NHL chief legal officer Bill Daly said.
The players' association denied the charges.
"The NHLPA confirms that the NHL has filed an unfair labor practice charge with the U.S. National Labor Relations Board," the union said in a statement. "The NHLPA will have no further comment while the matter is reviewed by the NLRB other than to say we are confident the NHL's actions and allegations are without merit."