At ESPN, Katie Strang spoke with Judge Arthur Boylan who said that he really wants a shot at solving the CBA issues separating the NHL and NHLPA.
Boylan is a season ticket holder for the Minnesota Wild and told Strang that he would volunteer to mediate talks for free just to get the deal done.
He said that the two sides need to understand that for better or worse the fate of the league is up to them, “They know the future of the game is in their hands. They’d really be blowing this thing if it doesn’t get resolved, it being the second lockout in recent memory. That would be a real disaster for everybody.”
Boylan was in charge of mediation talks between the NFL and NFLPA during their lockout last year.
Strang said that Boylan encouraged the two sides to always be talking and that his chief responsibility was to see who meshed with who”a large part of Boylan’s job was not just to find traction in negotiations but to also determine which lawyers worked well with who, which owners and which players were helpful to the process.”
Strang adds “Often times the two sides would stay at the same hotel, he said, and even when they met with fierce resistance, he insisted the two sides “break bread” after sessions. Whether it was joining up for dinner or grabbing a few cocktails, Boylan wanted the two sides to maintain communication. “
An explanation of how the NHL used mediation in the past can be found, HERE.
At ESPN.com, Pierre LeBrun writes that the NHL is not ready to bring a mediator in to help get things moving in regards to a getting a new CBA done.
Bill Daly told LeBrun, “So far, I think we all have been in agreement that we didn’t think that the introduction of a mediator into the process was timely or that it would necessarily further the process. That may change at some point, but it hasn’t yet.”
George Cohen, who declined LeBrun’s interview request, was the mediator who worked with the NBA and NBAPA last year.
Cohen previously worked as a consultant for the NHLPA, NBAPA and MLBPA but the NY Times says that he takes a down the middle approach.
Notwithstanding Cohen’s pro-union background, management lawyers say he is a down-the-middle mediator who is adept at nudging two sometimes unmovable groups, as he must do in this instance. His skills as a private mediator helped persuade President Obama in 2009 to appoint him director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, which steps in to help end major disputes that are hurting the economy.
The NHL’s lead lawyer Bob Batterman dealt with Cohen during the NFL lockout when Batterman represented the NFL. Batterman said, “He has total credibility on both sides. He knows how to move the process, and he understands the politics on each side of the table.”
Cohen told the NY Post last year, “All labor disputes come to an end. And some day, there will be an agreement or otherwise there wouldn’t be an enterprise anymore. We are ready willing and able to assist parties in the future and hopefully they will do it and we can have a peaceful resolution of their dispute.”
The NHL and NHLPA went to mediation in 2004 and while it was in those sessions that the NHLPA finally decided to accept a salary cap, after three failed sessions, Gary Bettman canceled the season.
Bob Batterman also represented the NHL in 2004-05.