Extraterritorial Lockouts in Sports: How the Alberta Labour Board Erred in Declining Jurisdiction over the NHL

Goeckner-Zoeller, Grant

Labor related work stoppages are becoming an epidemic in the four major American sports leagues, the National Hockey League (NHL), National Basketball Association (NBA), Major League Baseball (MLB) and National Football League (NFL). With the successful use of player strikes and several successful antitrust challenges, 1970–2000 was a period of significant player gains in the form of free agency rights and salary increases. Yet the past ten years represent a period of substantial owner take-backs, largely through the use of owner-imposed lockouts. This trend began when the NHL took the extreme step of cancelling the entire 2004-05 season in order to impose a hard cap on player salaries. In 2011, both the NFL and NBA locked out their players and achieved reductions in the percentage of league revenues paid to their players. The NFL even survived an antitrust challenge to its lockout, defeating the players’ previously powerful negotiation tool. Following this playbook, the NHL again locked out its players in 2012–13, demanding that the players take a smaller share of league revenues and looking to further capitalize on gains from the 2004–05 lockout.


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Columbia Journal of Law & the Arts

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February 7, 2014