After months of not agreeing on much, the NHL and NHLPA have agreed to have a third party come in and help these languishing negotiations.
Federal Mediation and Conciliation service director George H. Cohen said in a statement on Monday that hes had separate, informal discussions with the league and PAs top representatives during these negotiations.
Blackhawks player representative Steve Montador hopes this leads to something.
I think its important to move the process along, Montador said via email. If theres merit in this, that's great. While the mediators have no decision making powers to enforce anyone to do anything, I hope the process is taken seriously and a deal can be struck.
Cohen has assigned deputy director Scot L. Beckenbaugh and director of mediation services John Sweeney to be part of the negotiations. Commissioner Guy Serota was also slated to be one of the mediators, but after a mid-afternoon flap regarding Serota's Twitter feed -- most of which has been deleted -- Cohen removed him from the process.
Cohen said in a statement that "it has been called to my attention that there are issues involving an allegedly hacked Twitter account associated with Commissioner Guy Serota, one of the mediators I assigned. Accordingly, in order to immediately dispel any cloud on the mediation process, and without regard to the merits of the allegations, I have determined to take immediate action, namely to remove Commissioner Serota from this assignment.
As for the FMCS' part in any upcoming collective bargaining negotiations, Cohen released this statement:
At the invitation of the FMCS, and with the agreement of both parties, the ongoing negotiations will now be conducted under our auspices, Cohens statement continued. Due to the extreme sensitivity of these negotiations and consistent with the FMCSs long-standing practice, the agency will refrain from any public comment concerning the future schedule andor the status of negotiations until further notice.
The subject of mediation has come up a few times during these negotiations, which havent yielded much progress over several months.
Could it help? It certainly couldnt hurt. The league and players association last met before Thanksgiving, when the PA came with its latest proposal. But the league rejected it, and on Friday canceled the 2012-13 All-Star game and regular-season games through Dec. 14.
Blackhawks forward Jamal Mayers, when asked recently if a mediator would be a good idea, said this:
That was suggested by (NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr) maybe a month ago. Dons focus all along has been getting a fair deal. Its not about saving face, looking good in the media. Its more about the present and getting a deal done thats fair, he said. If it means mediation to get to that, both sides should seriously consider it.