Last night on twitter, Aaron Ward said that the federal mediator that has been part of talks all week was brought in at the request of the NHL.
Kevin Allen wrote that if nothing else, the mediation process has allowed some of the anger and “heat” between the two sides to subside a bit.
Pierre LeBrun writes at ESPN.com that both sides told the mediator that there is a little “wiggle room” on the key issues.
John Shannon of Sportsnet writes “Mediation only works if sides feel they are close. He cannot arbitrate issues, he only creates possibilities and lines of communication”
At CBC, Elliotte Friedman writes:
The more you read about how mediators actually do their work, the more you realize how careful everyone needs to be about measuring their success. He’s not going to keep the process going if he sees no willingness to make a deal, which explains why previous attempts were such spectacular failures.
Friedman notes that the mediator isn’t allowed to reveal what one side is thinking to the other side. He adds that when the mediator asks a question the person answering doesn’t know whether the idea comes from the other side or from the mediator himself.
Darren Dreger said that the mediation process is creating enough traction to keep things moving and is painting a “general view of positivity.”
Damien Cox tweeted “People will truly buy anything. Now we’re to believe mediation, useless a few days ago, is working wonderfully. Oy.”
Chris Botta wrote that it is all well and good that mediation is reportedly going well, but at some point the two sides will need to look at each other and be in the same room.
Bruce Garrioch agreed with Botta in saying that the key will be when both sides return to the same room. He calls the situation “toxic” when both sides are together.
At CBC, Elliotte Friedman writes that the NHL and NHLPA were wasting their time with mediation if all the mediators were going to do was ask if the players would accept a proposal that they have already said they didn’t like.
Friedman writes “Non-binding mediation is the worst. A waste of time. A useless process. No mediator is going to get them to budge. It’s all about the calendar, and it’s got too many days remaining.”
He says that the process needs a shot of “adrenaline” to help close the gap.
The NHL and NHLPA will meet tomorrow at an undisclosed location in
New York City and for the second time in the process federal mediators will be involved.
Nick Cotsonika tweets
- “What mediation should do, at minimum, is keep things quiet, private and on task. It should eliminate theatrics and lessen miscommunication.”
- “NHL would not agree to mediation if it didn’t have some use for it. Must have some reason to return to talks, some value in this route.”
Friedman wrote today “Barring a breakthrough in mediation, it’s expected the NHLPA will begin moving in that direction very shortly. It can take effect immediately. It’s what the NBA did days before reaching a settlement last November.”
On the NBA disclaiming interest last year, Larry Coon wrote at ESPN.com that the NBAPA removed itself as the bargaining unit for the players and converted itself into a trade association.
Derek Fisher, the NBAPA president at the time said, “After two years of making an effort, we concluded that the process has not worked. We cannot get a fair deal.”
Coon adds “In utilizing a disclaimer of interest rather than an involuntary decertification, the players have chosen a timelier but riskier approach. The disclaimer will likely be challenged by the league as a “sham,” as the NFL did when faced with the disclaimer issued by the players’ association; the league argued that the dissolution was merely a negotiating tactic, and that the union was still representing the players’ interests.”
He adds that the big reason to do this is to gain leverage and flip the script, “But the real point of dissolving the union is to generate leverage. The players don’t really want to go all the way to trial — they want to settle. If the players win a major victory early in the case and the owners are forced to accept the prospect of a catastrophic result in court, then the players have gained real leverage.”
According to Pierre LeBrun, mediation between the NHL and NHLPA is over and no progress was made.
Renaud Lavoie adds that there is no reason they couldn’t return to mediation at atother point.
Bob McKenzie tweets “Sounds as if there’s no traction or progress coming out of the mediation session. Official statements to follow, no doubt.”
Katie Strang tweets that the two sides remain far apart.
Right now the NHL and NHLPA are in the process of mediation and at ESPN.com, Craig Custance offers his help to get the mediators to find a middle ground for the two sides.
Custance says that the middle ground for Make Whole is fairly simple and should be around $290 to $300 million. The NHL is currently offering $211 million, likely to go down, while the NHLPA wants $393 million.
Custance thinks that limiting contracts to five years and having a salary variance is redundant so he thinks it would be smart to keep the variance but limit contracts to 8-10 years.
In regards to where the salary cap will end up, Larry Brooks writes in the NY Post that the NHLPA has proposed as system where the salary cap and salary floor would be 20% of the midpoint which would give more of a range than the expired CBA did.
The NHL reportedly is offering a midpoint of $52 million and the ceiling and floor either being $8 million form the mid-point or 10%, whichever is higher.
Andy Strickland writes at True Hockey that the owners are going to relent on contract issues as long as they “win” on back diving contracts. He adds that he believes there will be a season and that many players have lost respect for Brendan Shanahan who sits in on the meetings but doesn’t say anything.
At ESPN.com, Lester Munson writes that mediation is the logical and reasonable way to end the lockout.
In the Globe and Mail, James Mirtle writes about how mediation was used during the NBA and NFL lockouts last year but didn’t produce any results.
He spoke with people who were involved in the mediation talks for those two leagues and who said that nothing could be accomplished because of how entrenched both sides were in their beliefs.
He spoke with one person who said that they worked to try and get mediation to work in the NBA and NFL but no progress or deals were made until the union decertified and lawsuits were started.
Scott Burnside writes at ESPN.com that one of the big things that the mediators will have to do is build trust between the two sides. He writes, “Maybe, just maybe, having a third party in the room will help release those toxins and the two sides can get down to the business of saving at least part of the 2012-13 season.”
Pierre LeBrun writes at ESPN.com that one of the main reasons mediation didn’t work in 2005 was because the NHLPA was still insisting on not putting in a salary cap. He notes that this time is different with the gap of only $182 million separating them in the make whole but emphasizes one point, “mediation only has a chance if both parties are open to the process.”
According to a tweet from Katie Strang, Brad Richards said that he isn’t very optimistic about mediation and he said that right now he is “scared for the game.
Pat Leonard tweets Richards saying that he doesn’t see what a mediator will do if the NHL sticks to its word of their previous offer being their last offer.
The full quote, via Leonard, is ”Players are very together, all asking real questions, all want to know where it’s going. We’re scared for the game.”
At CBC, Dan Oldfield writes that a key to remember with mediation is that it is non-binding and used to help both sides find common ground on which to build a deal.
He says that the mediators will “attempt to uncover the real needs of the parties — as opposed to the wants — and bring them closer to satisfying those needs.”
Oldfield says that the mediators may never bring the two sides into the same room and that after meeting with both sides to understand what their issues are they will start exploring the different ways that the gap can be bridged.
At ESPN.com Henry Abbott, who writes True Hoop, wrote about mediator George Cohen who is the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service Director.
Cohen was a mediator during the NBA lockout last year.
On what can be expected, Abbott writes “The NBA had its longest days of mediation when Cohen got involved. There is a practical reason for that — the process calls for the the two sides to be separated much of the time, with Cohen shuttling back and forth between them. Progress is slow. However, Cohen is said to have a deliberate tactic of making the days long to make clear that everyone means business, to minimize distractions from interested parties not in the room and to wear down those opposing a deal. After bargaining until 3 a.m. repeatedly, people tend to soften.”
Chris Botta tweeted “Non-binding mediation for NHL and PA will be as useful as the union’s labor board challenges. Killing time til BoG meeting on Dec. 5.”
5:43PM: Guy Serota has been removed from the mediation panel. Serota had a questionable twitter feed that was drawing many questions.
Don Fehr released a statement saying, The NHLPA has agreed to the addition of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS) to our ongoing negotiations. We look forward to their involvement as we continue working to reach an equitable agreement for both the players and the owners.
3:53PM: Renaud Lavoie tweets that mediation is expected to begin on Wednesday when the two sides meet.
3:11PM:It has been announced that the NHL and NHLPA have agreed to involve a federal mediator
The following was released about the decision:
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service Director George H. Cohen issued the following statement today on the ongoing labor negotiations between the National Hockey League and the National Hockey League Players’ Association:
“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.”
THIS SECTION has more on mediation and how it has worked for the NHL in the past.