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Lockout-Related Tweets Land Former Flyers Scottie Upshall and Matt Carle in NHL’s Lawsuit

Dec 16, 2012, 2:31 PM EDT

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You’ve been told at least once for each and every one of your friends and followers on Facebook and Twitter: Be careful what you write on social media.

Maybe it will get you turned down for a future job, maybe it will get you fired, or maybe it will get you sued you in a New York court.

The NHL on Friday named 36 players in a lawsuit intended to prove that the players’ association had always intended to decertify — or, in this case, “declaim interest” in its union — in an effort to end the collective bargaining process as its been conducted and move the proceedings to court. In short, the NHL argues that the union is in breach of the “good faith” bargaining rules of the National Labor Relations Act.

Regardless of whether or not one buys such a claim after months of negotiation, the players have done themselves no favors. In fact, they’ve effectively built the owners’ case with their use of Twitter.

Per the Ottawa Sun:

Not only were NHLPA representatives of all seven Canadian teams named in the filing, the league also included quotes from several players talking about the possibility of going the decertification route over the last couple of months.

Included in the evidence was tweets from San Jose Sharks forward Logan Couture, Tampa Bay Lightning defenceman Matt Carle and Florida Panthers forward Scottie Upshall supporting NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr’s leadership to show a disclaimer doesn’t have any weight.

Urelated to the suit but related to their Twitter accounts, Upshall and others have also been making use of the hashtag “#lockoutproblems,” when taking pictures of golf courses, ocean-side hangouts and other locations. Even as someone who supports the players, it’s kind of a turn-off.

Two quick bits of analysis here to close:

1. The lockout began on Sept. 15, meaning the players and owners conducted negotiations to end the lockout over a period of three months. There were negotiations to avoid the lockout altogether over the summer, so we’re looking at a three-to-six-month period over which talks were conducted. There’s naturally a good cause for the Labor Relations Act’s “good faith” provision, but it stands to reason that the league would have filed its bad faith countersuit no matter when the players decertified. We’ve already seen similar circumstances in two other lockouts over the last two years. My questions in response to the league: How much time needs to go by before decertification ceases to be in bad faith? Does merely mentioning or even lobbying for decertification during the negotiation process necessarily constitute surface bargaining? These questions are naturally separate from the league’s argument that their disclaimer doesn’t hold weight because the players are still publicly supporting Fehr. In that regard, the players would do better quit talking altogether, as they’re actively undermining their own interests.

2. It’s strange to call Matt Carle a former Flyer since he’s yet to play a game for any other team. I saw a story about Bruno Gervais signing in Switzerland and it took me a second to process why that was relevant. In case you’ve forgotten, the Flyers also brought back Ruslan Fedotenko. These kind of reminders are becoming necessary. It’s been a while.