Mediation proved to be a big waste of time between the NHL and NHLPA.
This is what I predicted to Paul Allen on KFAN Wednesday morning and on the blog a few days back. Mediation isn't arbitration. At the end of the day, you need two sides willing to make a deal. Well, after two days of mediation, complete and utter failure.
NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly issued the following statement regarding the two days of meetings that concluded today with representatives of the NHL Players’ Association under the auspices of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service:
"Today, we concluded two days of mediation with FMCS 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. We are disappointed that the mediation process was not successful."
Don Fehr, National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA) Executive Director issued the following statement after the second day of meetings with the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS):
“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. 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.”
The NHL has proposed to the union that there be a meeting between a sampling of owners and players with no leadership from either side, meaning no Gary Bettman, Daly or Fehr Brothers.
In other words, Bettman has proposed that he is fine leaving the room. It's clear at this point that the league doesn't believe it'll ever get a deal done with the Fehrs standing in the way.
In fact, many say the end to the last lockout began to gain traction when the late Harley Hotchkiss, who owned Calgary, began to talk with then-Union President Trevor Linden. The union no longer has a president, by the way.
We will see if the union accepts the league proposal of leadership leaving the room. In the meantime, there is a Board of Governors meeting Dec. 5.
My personal opinion? At that BOG meeting, a drop-dead date needs to be determined and floated out there. Whether it's Jan. 1, Jan. 10, whatever, the league needs to make it known when the season will be canceled. Only way this lockout ends is when there's a pressure point and the players know when it's over for good.
Things are poisonous right now folks.