As the league and NHL Players' Association have spent months trying to end the lockout, many ideas have been shared across the bargaining table and from the outside. Bringing in a federal mediator was one.
The NHL got on board with the idea and, beginning this week, the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service will try to bridge the gap between the sides. But will mediators be able to help bring hockey back?
“My guess is just based on past history and the tone of the way things are going right now is that this is probably not going to produce a settlement,” said Gary R. Roberts, dean and professor of law at Indiana University. Roberts is a sports labor law specialist who has published articles and book chapters on antitrust and labor issues. He also has served as president of the Sports Lawyers Association.
“This isn’t like a hysterical couple doing divorces or a commercial dispute where one side or the other is just being totally unrealistic. These are two very sophisticated and experienced groups. I just don’t see how much a mediator can bring to the table other than to remind them of what’s at stake periodically.”
It’s an approach that the owners and players tried in 2004-05; three days after a mediator became involved, the season was canceled. But the salary cap was an issue no one was willing to budge on then, and that was much later in the process.
“Who knows how many seeds the mediator might plant that could eventually bear fruit,” Roberts said. “It’s hard to predict.”
But it’s worth a shot, given the current state of talks. The sides haven’t met since Nov. 21, when the NHLPA’s proposal was rejected by the owners.
“When you make a move toward them, if you’re going to have an agreement, somebody has to say, ‘Yes and now I can do this.’ Instead they said, more or less, ‘Yes, and what else can you do for me?’” NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr said Saturday night.
Frustration is building up over the stalemate from owners, players and fans. It’s all too easy sometimes to get caught up in rhetoric and the idea of winning or losing the battle.
“Mediation tends to me a mechanism whereby tempers can be cooled, and people who are operating from unrealistic perspectives can be brought to see what reality is,” Roberts said.
Roberts hasn’t followed the specific issues of the NHL lockout as closely as those in the NBA and NFL. But given how the sides have not been able to agree on splitting hockey-related revenue, contract terms and other player rights, his characteristic of the talks was not encouraging.
“It sounds like they’re pretty much at an impasse,” he said. “Both sides have their perspectives and their objectives and neither side can accept a set of proposals that the other side insists is necessary. We really are at sort of a standstill.”View Entire Story
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
By Andrew P. Napolitano
The president's men trash the Constitution to pursue antagonists
Independent voices from the TWT Communities
First over-the-counter column approved for fast and effective relief from even your worst media-induced headache.
Opinion, analysis, and musings on politics, pop culture, reinvention, and the resultant flotsam and jetsam floating around the right-of-center quadrant of the Left Coast.
Consummate traveler Todd DeFeo explores the unique stories that make destinations worth going to.
We welcome you to the intimate and personal thoughts on the news and events we, as editors, watch, read, and discuss with our writers every day.
Benghazi: The anatomy of a scandal
Vietnam Memorial adds four names
Cinco de Mayo on the Mall
NRA kicks off annual convention