EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) — Lawyers Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames players are trying to have the NHL lockout declared illegal under Alberta law.
The NHL has argued before the Alberta Labour Relations Board that a league spanning two countries cannot operate under different laws for each team.
The labor board deferred a decision to a later date.
About a half-dozen players attended the hearing, including Oilers forward Sam Gagner, goalie Devan Dubnyk and veteran Ryan Smyth.
The lockout began last weekend and some players are already signing with European teams for the season. There have been no formal talks between the two sides since Sept. 12. Training camps were to have opened Friday. The league has already canceled preseason games through Sept. 30.
NHLPA lawyer Bob Blair told the panel that the two teams are Alberta businesses, so provincial labor laws must be followed.
"No one gets to choose what labor laws apply to them in this province," Blair said. "The law is the law is the law."
He said players from the Oilers and Flames never agreed to forgo their rights under the Alberta Labour Code.
"It applies to every employer and employee," he said. "That is the starting point."
NHL lawyer Peter Gall pointed out that 23 of the 30 teams are in the United States and work under the same rules because labor laws in the country are federally regulated.
"So all of the players on all of the teams have been included in one bargaining unit," Gall said. "The NHLPA has never bargained with individual teams. It has only bargained with the NHL."
Bill Daly, the league's deputy commissioner, told the panel there has never been individual bargaining between players and their teams. He said it's important all teams operate under the same rules.