NHL Lockout 2012: Federal Mediation Won't Save League from Lost Season

Donald WoodFeatured ColumnistNovember 28, 2012

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 13:  Don Fehr, executive director of the National Hockey League Players Association meets with the media at Marriott Marquis Times Square on September 13, 2012 in New York City.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

While much of the 2012-13 NHL regular season has already been cancelled, there is a new hope that a partial season could be possible, especially now that the negotiations will include a federal mediator, according to Kevin Allen of USA Today.

The NHL and the NHL Players Association have been involved in intense negotiations for months now, but each side has been posturing for an extended battle the whole time.

As much as the fans want hockey back, the move of including a mediator in the negotiating process is not a guarantee they will get a deal done.

There are still core economic issues the two sides are far apart on like guaranteed contracts, revenue split, etc. (Sports Business Daily), and a mediator can only do so much if neither side has compromise on their mind.

Sports labor law specialist Gary R. Roberts told the Washington Times about his perception of the federal mediator and what that person would honestly do for the negotiations:

My guess is just based on past history and the tone of the way things are going right now is that this is probably not going to produce a settlement. This isn’t like a hysterical couple doing divorces or a commercial dispute where one side or the other is just being totally unrealistic. These are two very sophisticated and experienced groups. I just don’t see how much a mediator can bring to the table other than to remind them of what’s at stake periodically.

This was never intended to be a short-term situation for Gary Bettman and the owners or Donald Fehr and players, and both sides knew from the start that this was going to be a drawn-out battle with the 2012-13 season as the main casualty.

Once again, that leaves the diehard fans caught in the crossfire.

The truth is that there is no urgency to these discussions because the owners and the players know that the hardcore fanbase will flock back to the league as soon as it reconvenes. With that knowledge, both sides have conscientiously decided that they will not budge until their demands are met.

Once again, it is the fans’ money that the league and players are fighting over while not delivering the product. That’s the ultimate slap in the face to the person that hands their hard-earned cash to the league.

While there is still some hope that the mediator will talk some sense into the two sides, the only way compromise will come is if both the NHL and NHLPA truly want it.

As of right now, it’s all about the posturing.


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