We remain far apart.
That sentence has been said and written plenty since the NHL lockout began. And it only took federal mediators two days to come to the same conclusion.
The Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service met with the league and NHLPA for the second consecutive day on Thursday. But like so many meetings between the two parties now including a third party nothing was accomplished. The gap remains wide. And with December right around the corner, its getting into crunch time on whether or not there will even be a season.
After spending several hours with both sides over two days, the presiding mediators concluded that the parties remained far apart, and that no progress toward a resolution could be made through further mediation at this point in time, NHL deputy commissioner said in a statement on Thursday afternoon. We are disappointed that the mediation process was not successful.
Again, its another non-shocking development in negotiations or lack thereof that have yielded so little over the past few months. It wasnt surprising that the mediation didnt lead to more. But its sad that the mediation lasted just a scant two days.
NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr also released a statement:
This afternoon, the mediators informed the parties that they did not think it was productive to continue the discussions further today. The mediators indicated that they would stay in contact with the league and the NHLPA, and would call the parties back together when they thought the time was right.
When will the time be right? When were on the precipice of a full season being cancelled for the second time in eight years? When one side brings something to the table and the other side is actually willing to listen for more than a few minutes? Or actually dare we suggest itnegotiate?
So its onto the next plan. Commissioner Gary Bettman reportedly suggested and is waiting for a responsethat the owners and players have a negotiating session without NHL and NHLPA execs and staff present.
This latest idea falls into the category of the previous ones: its worth a shot. But be it going this route, or the next plan someone comes up with, it has to lead to progress and traction. And to some semblance of a season. Fast.
We remain far apart.