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Non-Binding Mediation Makes Its Debut Today

Created 1 years 276 days ago
by Michael DeNicola

Tags: Mediation NHL NHL Lockout NHLPA
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Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012


The NHL and Players' Association will meet up today, but this time with a twist of objectivity. United States Federal Mediators will be sitting in on labor talks to listen to both sides and their respective arguments. It's not much to catch up on, really. On the surface, you'd think it should take more than an afternoon to soak up all the details we've experienced and read about through the last 6-months of labor talks. But on second thought, it's just been a parade of rhetoric and puffed chests while mouths breathed into the ends of the media's microphones. 


Though these two mediators represent a glimmer of hope, a sobering thought is the fact that they're non-binding. This is not arbitration. Just a couple of old heads with a history of intervening on labor disputes. They'll voice their opinions, but it's up to the NHL and NHLPA to actually agree on and follow the impartial advice. In no way are either parties lawfully obligated to swing on the unbiased judgement. 


Many don't feel particularly optimistic about this. For example, New York Blueshirt captain Brad Richards spoke out and told the Daily News he's feeling "doubtful" that mediation will solve anything --


"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. 

"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."



Any belief on mediation coming from either the NHL or NHLPA is, coincidentally enough, biased. This is not about what Brad Richards (or any Player) thinks. We've been subjected to what the Union "thinks" for 180-days. Now's the time to hear what an impartial party thinks. 


Not to mention, Brad contradicts the Players as a whole with his statement. He refers to both groups as "sophisticated" while his own colleagues have recently badmouthed their Owners and this League's Commissioner, Gary Bettman. Do sophisticated  employees verbally bash their employers?


Well, maybe. We've all stuck it to our bosses behind closed doors before. But to do so in the papers and through social networking? Yea, that's far from sophisticated. 


Now, I won't allow a handful of moronic, unfiltered Players to spoil my opinion of the Union body as a whole. But it certainly doesn't help their image. All the more reason to introduce mediation. True, I don't believe it'll settle the lockout either -- not without binding arbitration -- but it's not a worthless step to take like Richards is effortlessly making it out to be.



First, you have to ask yourself why mediators are being brought in. What's happened that caused both parties to welcome a third-party opinion? 


Simple; Ego. 


The selfish psyche has completely corroded the progression of these labor talks. On one side of the table there's the stubborn and dismissive NHL. Opposite of them is the stubborn and nearsighted NHLPA. Both are captained by enforced pride, each believing they'll go down with the ship before they give in and abandon their avowal.


Mediation (though non-binding) could at least serve as the clearer waters, not shrouding the important issues that may otherwise be hidden by the murkiness of spite and chauvinism. 



But back to reports; The two mediators will be Scot L. Beckenbaugh and John Sweeney. They are scheduled to meet separately with the League and Union sometime this afternoon, both at undisclosed locations. They'll listen and interpret both positions, share their opinion, and from there it's up to the NHL/PA to make the next move. 



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