In desperate need of finding middle ground in their stalled negotiations aimed at forging a new collective bargaining agreement, the NHL and the NHL Players’ Association agreed Monday to include at least one Federal mediator at their next bargaining session, possibly as early as Wednesday.
The mediation process is non-binding, meaning the two sides are not obligated to follow or accept any recommendations rendered by the mediators.
George H. Cohen, director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service in Washington, D.C. said in a statement:
“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.”
The two sides sought the aid of Federal mediators during the NHL’s lockout of 2004-’05, but the move did not succeed in forging a deal The entire season was finally scrubbed in January and the parties finally negotiated a deal without the help of mediators in July ’05.
The NHL lockout, the third in league history, began Sept. 16. On Friday, the league cancelled all regular-season games through Dec. 14 as well as the January All-Star game scheduled for Columbus. Previously this month, the league also cancelled its iconic Winter Classic game, slated for Jan. 1 at the University of Michigan between the Red Wings and Maple Leafs.