- Patriot Act author on James Clapper: Fire, prosecute him
- Russia P.M. Medvedev: No amnesty for political prisoners
- Michigan GOP Senate hopeful reminds government is the ‘servant’
- Christmas, by Congress: Members mull a 15-cent tax on trees
- U.S. unemployment falls to five-year low of 7 percent; 203K jobs added
- World mourns Nelson Mandela and celebrates his life; burial set for Dec. 15
- Bill O’Reilly reminds: Nelson Mandela ‘was a communist’
- John Boehner says GOP should support gay candidates: ‘I do’
- Grass-Whopper: Pan-fried cricket burgers go over big in New York City
- CDC sees measles spike and ‘failure to vaccinate’
NHL lockout 2012: Reality is, mediation might not solve anything
Sports labor law expert says it offers no guarantees
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.”
About $182 million apart on core economic issues, there’s further disagreement on matters such as contract length (players want none while owners want to institute a five-year limit) and arbitration rights.
Even if mediators Scot L. Beckenbaugh and John Sweeney cannot bring about a quick settlement, perhaps the value of their presence is in the development of new ideas.
“These are very smart people, they’re very well prepared, they’ve run numbers out the wazoo. They know what’s going on,” Roberts said. “The only thing a mediator could conceivably do is come up with some complicated set of proposals that neither side has thought of up until this point in time that might pique their interest and get them started talking in a way that might lead to a result.”
Already 422 regular-season games have been canceled, along with the Winter Classic and the All-Star Game. The NHLPA is considering decertification to force the owners’ hand, and something has to give if the sides are to prevent the Stanley Cup from not being awarded for the second time in less than a decade.
But it’s uncertain whether mediation will be the solution.
“If I knew the answer to that, I’d be a soothsayer,” Roberts said. “I just don’t think anybody really knows.”
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
- WHYNO: Tomas Vokoun gets unexpected Stanley Cup shot with Penguins
- Brandon Meriweather, Redskins' secondary ready for bounceback year
- Kirk Cousins embraces role as Redskins' offseason starter as RG3 rehabs from injury
- Capitals notes: Realignment won't prompt roster remake
- Despite Caps' first-round playoff exit, Adam Oates' first season as coach left a positive taste
Latest Blog Entries
- Redskins injury updates (5/23): WR Pierre Garcon, CB Josh Wilson each had labrum surgery
- Capitals 'love' Matt Hendricks, but how much?
- Wojtek Wolski signs in Russia's Kontinental Hockey League
- Tom Poti won't return to Capitals, plans to continue his NHL career
- Is Tom Wilson ready to be a regular for Capitals?
- Spike in battlefield deaths linked to restrictive rules of engagement
- Activists urge Obama to go rogue, sidestep Congress
- Bill OReilly reminds: Nelson Mandela was a communist
- PRUDEN: British press horrified as London's new mayor dares to proclaim the truth
- 'Hunger Games' delivers Obama's message on income inequality
- New battlefront emerges in war between Republicans, tea party
- U.S. pilot scares off Iranians with 'Top Gun'-worthy stunt: 'You really ought to go home'
- Obama administration issues permits for wind farms to kill more eagles
- Budget negotiators look to federal workers for benefit concessions
- Obama downplays IRS scandal, blames Obamacare rollout on 'outdated' agencies
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
A politically conservative and morally liberal Hebrew alpha male hunts left-wing viper
This column will cover anything that has anything remotely to do with the game of baseball, from the game itself to mid-summer trades to offseason moves.
Entertainment News and Reviews from Washington, D.C. and beyond.
Political satirist and Christian apologist Bob Siegel discusses religion and politics.
White House pets gone wild!