It was a tactic the NHL Players' Association kept in its back pocket all fall. But once it became clear that negotiations during the ongoing lockout would go down to the wire, the league swiped it for itself.

The NHL filed a lawsuit in federal court Friday that seeks to declare the lockout legal under antitrust laws and filed a complaint filed with the National Labor Relations Board to prevent the NHLPA from beginning the process of decertifying. That is a move the NFLPA actually went through with in 2011 during that league's lockout. Just the threat of that move helped end the NBA's lockout last year.

NHL officials have said emphatically that the union decertifying will result in the end of the 2012-13 season. But not wanting to leave the players a choice, it went ahead with the suit. It may not matter. cited multiple sources Sunday in reporting that players would vote immediately on filing a disclaimer of interest. It is the final bit of leverage for both sides before a final round of negotiations that either will save the hockey season or kill it.

- Brian McNally