Thursday, November 29, 2012

Mediation no help as lockout continues

The National  Hockey League  and the  NHL Players'  Association  met  with  federal  mediators for  a second day  on Thursday  in  an  attempt  to  spur negotiations  towards  a  new  Collective Bargaining Agreement, but the news was far from promising.

Unlike Wednesday's meeting, cover was totally blown on the location, revealed by ESPN's Pierre LeBrun to be Woodbridge, New Jersey -- known for its office park at the intersection of the Garden State Parkway and New Jersey Turnpike.

"Today, we concluded two days of mediation with FMCS (Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service) mediators and representatives of the NHL Players' Association. After spending several hours with both sides over two days, the presiding mediators concluded that the parties remained far apart, and that no progress toward a resolution could be made through further mediation at this point in time," said NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly. "We are disappointed that the mediation process was not successful."

Multiple additional reports, primarily from John Shannon of Canada's Sportsnet and Katie Strang from ESPN, surfaced following the league-issued statement that commissioner Gary Bettman offered the players the chance to meet owners face-to-face, without any representatives from either side involved. Nonetheless, the union remained neutral when issuing its own statement.

"Today, players and NHLPA staff, along with representatives of the league, concluded a second day of mediation under the auspices of the FMCS. This afternoon, the mediators informed the parties that they did not think it was productive to continue the discussions further today," said NHLPA executive director Don Fehr. "The mediators indicated that they would stay in contact with the league and the NHLPA, and would call the parties back together when they thought the time was right."

Mediation  by a  third party  was  also sought  out twice  during the  2004-05 lockout;  once as a  last-ditch effort to save the season in February of 2005, and  once more during the following summer, with no positive outcome. The hope was that an objective party could help get the negotiating process on track.

A stray report from a Montreal Canadiens blogger also revealed that one of the mediators grew exasperated at the lack of movement from either side, saying "I can't help people who don't want to be helped."

It has been widely speculated that the players' next move will be to decertify the union, a move last seen in professional sports by the NFLPA during the league's lockout last Spring.

The  current  work stoppage, which  began on Sept.  16, has already caused the cancellation  of  422 regular-season games  as well  as the Winter Classic and All-Star Weekend.

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