Quebec labor board to hear appeal

Although there have been no formal negotiations between the NHL and NHLPA in nearly two weeks, the two sides are set to battle it out in court again in December.

According to a spokesperson, the Quebec Labour Relations Board has set aside Dec. 6-7 to hear the NHLPA's case on behalf of several players from the Montreal Canadiens who are challenging the legality of the league-imposed lockout.

The case was first brought to the Canadian provincial labor courts in September as the NHLPA sought an injunction to the work stoppage. The QLRB rejected the union's request for immediate relief, but deferred judgment on the case by setting a date to hear the full merits of the NHLPA's complaint.

Even if the union wins a favorable judgment -- a similar appeal was shot down Oct. 10 in Alberta -- the lockout would not end. It would, however, require the Canadiens to pay their players.

"Will it help settle this lockout? Probably not," NHLPA director of operations Alex Dagg told the Montreal Gazette. "But we think there are certain principles worth fighting for and continuing to put forward here."

The lockout stretched into its 45th day Tuesday with no end in sight.

The NHL and NHLPA have remained in communication, but have not scheduled any meetings.

The league is expected to announce this week the cancellation of the Winter Classic, a source told ESPNNewYork.com. The game between the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs was scheduled for New Year's Day at Michigan Stadium.

All games through the month of November were wiped out last Friday in the face of the current stalemate.