By David Salazar ( | First Posted: Dec 22, 2012 12:52 PM EST

Pittsburgh Penguins hockey player Sidney Crosby watches as Donald Fehr, executive director of the National Hockey League Players Association, speaks at a news conference in New York September 13, 2012. The National Hockey League (NHL) remained on the brink of its third lockout in 18 years as the union representing its players turned down a take-it-or-leave-it offer on a new collective bargaining agreement on Thursday. (Photo : REUTERS/Eric Thayer (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT ICE HOCKEY BUSINESS) )

The NHL Union is no more. On Friday, it was announced that the players voted "overwhelmingly" to dissolve the union and potentially proceed with class action anti-trust lawsuits against the league.

"No surprise," NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said via e-mail. "Any other result and I certainly would have questioned the solidarity of the union."

According to USA Today, the NHLPA executive board and negotiating committee were scheduled to hold a conference call Friday afternoon to determine the next step. The union does not have to actually issue the disclaimer immediately and could potentially choose to attempt another round of negotiations with league before walking away from the players.

If the union opts to no longer represent that players, they can in turn file anti-trust lawsuits to nullify the legality of the current lockout. The NHL filed two motions last week; one to validate the legality of the lockout and another to nullify players' contracts if they decertified or disclaimed interest from the union.

The NFL and NBA players also following this same storyline, but a Collective Bargaining Agreement was reached on both sides before the lawsuit was prolonged. In the case of the NBA, the players filed a disclaimer of interest but the CBA was reached 12 days later. The lawsuits were then withdrawn and the union was reformed.

The NHLPA board is made up of 30 players, one from each team. It has until Jan. 2nd to decide whether or not to file the disclaimer.  The league has already cancelled all games up until Jan. 14 and most speculate that the next cancellation would be the remainder of the season.

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