I like Ian White a lot more as a hockey player than as a legal strategist...and I'm not entirely sold on how much I like Ian White as a hockey player, so that's saying something.
Back in September, White first got our attention by glibly stating that he thinks maybe players should be 66% of revenues a month before 50/50 and the concept of 'make whole' was even on the table.
Then in mid-November, he called Gary Bettman an "idiot", which is definitely not a step in the right direction. He later apologized for saying that, but the pattern is clear: Ian White's mouth is not correctly wired to his brain.
Today, MLive has a quote from White which is probably the worst thing yet in light of recent events. Ansar Khan asked Red Wings players their thoughts on the decertification/disclaimer of interest issue. Here's what White had to say:
"That's the only avenue we have left,'' Ian White said. "They kind of painted us in a corner. Is it the right way or the wrong way? I'm not sure. We'll see how it plays out. But that's probably the only option we have left.''
The process could expedite a labor deal between the sides.
White noted that the NBA players filed for disclaimer of interest last November and had a deal done within weeks.
"So sometimes it's a kick-starter to get a CBA done,'' White said.
Dan Cleary and Niklas Kronwall were both also asked and gave much better answers. The problem with what White said is that he essentially said exactly what the NHL is claiming in their lawsuit against the NHLPA and in their unfair labor practice filing with the NLRB.
The crux of the NHL argument is that the NHLPA is not serious about decertifying and are instead using just the threat of doing so as a means to hurry along a CBA more favorable to the Players Association. By implying that the decertification threat is a ploy to get a CBA done, White is playing exactly into the NHL's suit. Make no mistake, if the suit goes forward, this quote by White is going to be used.
There's absolutely zero benefit in White having said this. In fact, the more players who shoot off at the mouth about how the threat of decertification is essentially a bargaining tactic (which the NHL argues, probably correctly, is bad faith negotiating), the more likely the threat of decertification doesn't work as that tactic.
It's probably best that Ian White stop talking.