The first time decertification and its possible fallout was posed to me came during a conversation with an agent who was already fed up with the lockout, during its infancy. It all seemed like a fantasyland as he explained what would happen if the players ultimately followed decertification or a disclaimer of interest to a bitter conclusion. Everyone could become a free agent. The draft would disappear. A few teams would probably have to contract.
"It's chaos," he said. "Nothing more or less than that. That's the word. Chaos."
It's still a fantasyland. Even as the players wrap up voting that would allow the NHLPA's executive committee to file a disclaimer, it still doesn't seem like a reality that the two sides would ultimately go down that long path of mutual destruction.
And yet, in the NHL court filing on Friday, there was that first real, legitimate glimpse into a post-decertification world in a clause the league included. It asked that if the courts ruled the NHLPA's disclaimer is legal then all contracts signed under the previous CBA become void. There it was in black and white.
"It'd be interesting if they can get every player as an unrestricted free agent," said Oilers captain Shawn Horcoff. "I'm not sure how Detroit is going to like Pavel Datsyuk going anywhere he wants and make what he wants, or Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin in Pittsburgh, or even our team [in Edmonton] with all our young guns."
So I asked one of the smartest NHL front office men I know to indulge the readers of this blog for a moment and examine what this world might look like from the perspective of a general manager trying to build a team in a league where everyone is a free agent. Who would be worth the most? Where would the players end up? How much would it cost?
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