As expected, the NHL Players' Association voted overwhelmingly in favor of asking its executive board to file a "disclaimer of interest," a move that would enable it to disband the union and to file an antitrust lawsuit that claims the league's lockout is illegal.

The players' executive board has until Jan. 2 to file the claim.

Maybe it will be filed. Or maybe the vote, which ended Friday with players approving by 706-22, was just an attempt to back the NHL into a negotiating corner.

Friday was the 97th day of the lockout, and the sides haven't met in nine days.

That doesn't mean the NHL hasn't been busy. In a preemptive strike last week, it filed a complaint in federal court, asking that the lockout be declared legal. The league also filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board.

The union has until Jan. 7 to respond to the complaint, which was filed in New York.

The league has canceled nearly 51 percent of the season, wiping out games though Jan. 14. The NHL had its entire 2004-05 season canceled by a labor dispute.

Meanwhile, Gov. Christie criticized the NHL for its third work stoppage since 1994-95.

"When you can't have a good relationship with your folks, your labor, three times in a row now to the point where you lose most of or entire seasons, it reflects, I think, on management," he told the Record of Hackensack, N.J. "I mean, listen, I worked it out with state workers, [and] they come to work every day."

Christie called it "one of those typical fights between billionaires and millionaires that can't figure out how to divide the money up, and you've got to wonder about the leadership of the National Hockey League."

During last year's NBA lockout, players filed a disclaimer of interest but had a new collective bargaining agreement 12 days later, and the union quickly reformed.

NHL owners want a 10-year CBA and a five-year maximum on individual contracts - seven years if a team re-signs its own player. The players want an eight-year CBA and eight-year maximums on player pacts.

There are also issues over the salary-cap ceiling and whether to include amnesty buyouts, which would free teams from counting a player's salary (read: a bad signing) against the cap.