NHL Lockout: What's Next for League and NHLPA After Failed Federal Mediation?

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NHL Lockout: What's Next for League and NHLPA After Failed Federal Mediation?
Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE

To no one's surprise, not much was accomplished (via Pierre LeBrun of TSN) during this week's CBA talks between the NHL and NHLPA with the assistance of federal mediators.

Federal mediation wasn't expected to produce a breakthrough in negotiations, and after two days of trying with a middleman, it has proved to be a giant waste of time.

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly commented in regard to this week's meetings (via Dan Rosen of NHL.com on Twitter):

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.

There aren't many options left for the league and its players. They have tried negotiating, and that hasn't worked. They have met for hours and hours for consecutive days and still weren't able to make much progress, and federal mediation also did very little to move this process forward.

So what's the next step in this process?

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has come up with an interesting idea. Darren Dreger of TSN and Katie Strang of ESPN New York explain:

I would love to attend this meeting and have the opportunity to watch these players talk to the owners, especially the "hardliners" such as Jeremy Jacobs of the Boston Bruins. That would be fun to watch, to say the least.

Should the NHLPA meet with the owners without Donald Fehr?

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It's certainly risky for the players to enter a meeting like this without proper representation, such as NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr or a lawyer, but meeting face-to-face with the men who voted to have a lockout has the potential to yield some progress.

Regardless of whether the NHLPA agrees to this meeting, two possible steps for the union to take next are to decertify or disclaim interest (which dissolves the union).

The good news is that neither side has stopped communicating, and both are coming up with different ways to move closer to an agreement. They haven't given up yet, which is why you should still be somewhat optimistic that we will have a shortened 2012-13 NHL season.

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