NHL Lockout

NHL Lockout: Why Bringing Federal Mediators Back to CBA Talks Will Be Productive

Gary Bettman
Gary BettmanBruce Bennett/Getty Images
Nicholas GossCorrespondent IDecember 12, 2012

When CBA talks resume this week, representatives from both the NHL and NHLPA will be joined by federal mediators for the second time in this lockout, according to John Shannon of Sportsnet.ca:

Can confirm that the Federal Mediators will return to the NHL-NHLPA negotiations for Wednesday's meeting. Hence the undisclosed location.

— John Shannon (@JSportsnet) December 11, 2012

Shannon also explains who we can expect to represent the league at this session.

For meetings with NHLPA and Federal Mediators on Wednesday, the National Hockey League will have no owners in attendance.#GaryBillStaff

— John Shannon (@JSportsnet) December 11, 2012

The first time that mediation was used, no progress was made, but there are a few reasons to be optimistic about mediation actually having a positive impact on these labor negotiations the second time around.

One of the biggest problems in these negotiations is the public conversation going back and forth between the two sides after each meeting.

Nearly every time labor talks end, one side accuses the other of not doing enough to reach a deal, and this public feud not only looks bad for the league and angers the fans even more. It doesn't nothing to move this process forward.

The presence of mediators will ensure that the two sides keep quiet and focus on what needs to happen for a deal to be made. You probably won't see any more spirited press conferences from league commissioner Gary Bettman as long as mediators are in CBA talks.

During last week's meetings in New York City, the players wanted to bring mediators back to the talks, but the NHL declined. After making progress toward a deal without the assistance of mediators, it wasn't surprising to see the league decline the union's request.

One thing to realize is that the two sides are closer to a deal now than they were the last time mediators were asked to get involved.

Mediation is very helpful when there isn't a huge divide on the major issues, which is one reason why fans should be a little optimistic that the federal mediators will make a stronger impact on the talks than they did last time.

Since each side knows a 50-50 split of hockey-related revenue will have to happen, and they are not far off on several key issues, mediators could come in and find some compromises to help close some of these small gaps separating the owners and players on the important issues.

If both sides didn't think additional mediation would be productive, then bringing these men back wouldn't have been agreed to.

At this point in the process, when there's a deal to be made and time is running out, having federal mediators help both sides find common ground and work out the issues in an undisclosed place is what these negotiations need.

Playing games in the media has to stop. The only way for this CBA to get done is for both sides to privately talk and negotiate. Mediators will help this happen.

 

For more hockey news and analysis, follow NHL columnist Nicholas Goss on Twitter. 

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