NHL Lockout: Federal Mediators Get Involved

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman will soon find three new faces at the bargaining table: a trio of federal mediators. Brad Penner-US PRESSWIRE

After labor talks broke down between the NHL and NHLPA just before Thanksgiving, and following the cancellation of the first half of December games as well as the 2013 All-Star Game, many were left to wonder what the next step was in these negotiations. The word decertification–along with studies of how it works and what it might do–started to be kicked around more often than a pre-game soccer ball.

Now it has been announced that United States federal mediators will get involved in trying to end the NHL lockout.

Suiting up for Team Mediation are Scot Beckenbaugh, John Sweeney and Guy Serota. Mediators are under the employ of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, whose director, George H. Cohen, issued a statement on the matter:

“I have had separate, informal discussions with the key representatives of the National Hockey League and the National Hockey League Players’ Association during the course of their negotiations for a successor collective bargaining agreement. At the invitation of the FMCS, and with the agreement of both parties, the ongoing negotiations will now be conducted under our auspices. I have assigned Deputy Director Scot L. Beckenbaugh, Director of Mediation Services John Sweeney, and Commissioner Guy Serota to serve as the mediators.

“Due to the extreme sensitivity of these negotiations and consistent with the FMCS’s long-standing practice, the Agency will refrain from any public comment concerning the future schedule and/or the status of the negotiations until further notice.”

Interestingly, a magistrate judge who helped mediate the NFL‘s player lockout–and who identifies as a Minnesota Wild fan, recently receiving a refund on part of his 2012-13 season ticket–offered to do this mediation for free. However, Arthur Boylan has not been assigned to this case.

Mediators were used during the negotiations in 2004 and 2005, though obviously with no success. But this time, things could turn out differently and positively. Benefits of mediation versus decertification include the facts that mediation takes less time, remains confidential, doesn’t involve a jury, includes a sense of mutual desire to find an agreement and involves people who have a lot of experience in issues like these.

The NHL and NHLPA are scheduled to meet with Team Mediation later this week.

UPDATE: Mediation should begin on Wednesday, but without Serota, who has been removed from the case. No word yet on any replacement for him.

Around the Web