Decertification winners and losers

If the NHLPA chooses decertification, rinks might be empty for a long time. Derek Leung/Getty Images

So let's say this goes all the way. Let's say the NHLPA gets fed up with the lack of progress in getting a deal done and decertifies. Not as a way to scare NHL owners back to the negotiating table but to really make history in pro sports and change the structure of professional hockey in North America as we know it.

There's so much unknown about the result of decertification because no group of players has been willing to go completely nuclear on its league.

It undoubtedly would be a remarkable transformation of the game. If successful, there'd be no more salary cap (probably). No more draft. No artificial restrictions on contracts. Some would argue that any contract signed during the previous CBA might be voided because it was signed in a system that violated antitrust rules.

"It's a gray area. The argument from the players would be they are free agents. But then some players would say, 'No, we're not.' It could go either way," one agent said. "The owners may say everyone is a free agent."

You might have guys like Steven Stamkos or Sidney Crosby suing to have their old contracts deemed illegal, and others on less team-friendly deals suing to have their contracts honored. Every decision in the courts would pave new ground in the hockey world.

What would a decertified NHL really look like? "Even the lawyers have no idea," the agent said.

Even without assuming the extremes, you can imagine some possible winners and losers in a decertified world. Here's a look at who might benefit, and who would lose out the most: