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NHL

NHL Rumors: Is It Time for Federal Mediation?

In this picture, a mediator really needs to make three. Photo credit for Fehr and Bettman: Brad Penner-US PRESSWIRE

There was a recent article on The Onion’s website titled “’04-‘05 NHL Lockout Enters Ninth Year”. It’s only been 60 days, but it feels like decades since this lockout started. I don’t know what makes me want to pull my hair out more: the lack of talks, the childish behavior or the scare tactics being employed.

One thing’s for sure, it’s time for both sides to sit down and talk. I don’t mean one side says “Take this deal as is or else”, I mean actually sit down and compromise. If the league and the NHLPA can’t do that on their own, it may be time for a third party to step in and bring them together.

Really, it’s gotten to the point where it’s no longer a question of whether or not it should happen. After four days of talks, there’s nothing to show for it but a weak attempt by one side to discredit the other. Frustration has started to cool and evolve into apathy and a general consensus of “I’m not surprised that nothing happened.” That’s not good on any level. The time is right for federal mediation.

The PA is all for this, with Executive Director Donald Fehr saying they welcome mediation. As for the league…well, not so much. Deputy commissioner Bill Daly has said that mediation wasn’t needed because it wouldn’t help the process, and he recently stated “They [the PA] haven’t approached us about it, but if they did, certainly it’s something we’d take back to our group and consider.”

Sure, he’d take it to the group of eight owners who act as commissioner Gary Bettman’s yes men, but that’s where the idea of mediation would die. You see, mediation means that a third party would assess the situation objectively and probably force the league to move toward making concessions on things like contracts and hockey-related revenue that it doesn’t want to make. A mediator would probably not put up with the petty stunts that the league is trying to pull in an attempt to turn the players on Fehr. When you look at it that way, that would really cramp their style.

If both sides are really serious about getting a deal done, they should think about bringing in federal mediation because we all know how well negotiations have been going without it. The only way that will happen is if Bettman and his Gang of Eight swallow their pride first and admit that they need help. Unfortunately, that won’t be happening any time soon.