Failed Mediators Threatens NHL Season

Although the talks have broken off for more than two days now between the NHL and NHLPA, the road ahead is becoming increasingly evident.  We are about to lose another full season of NHL action because neither side can get any type of traction going in the negotiations towards a new CBA.

Call it a recent revelation or just another bout of optimism that is now gone, but when the mediators were announced that little sliver of hope still hung in the balance.  After two days of having a neutral third party in the room and not having any progress come of it, the optimism of salvaging a 50-60 game regular season schedule is now all but dead.

We’ve already had to endure the pain of hearing the NHL cancel all games through December 14 along with the Winter Classic and the All-Star game that was slated for Columbus.  Next on the chopping block could be the remainder of the season, something that would make the winters even more dreary and cold.

The NHL experts and analysts have said that the league could wait until the last minute before pulling the plug on the season, meaning a date nearing the end of January could be a possibility.  The last lockout that took the 2004-05 season saw the league formally cancel the remainder of the season in early February, hoping for any last minute miracles.

With both sides miles apart in their wish list for a new CBA, it’s hard to fathom that the league will wait that long to end this misery.  The only question after that will be whether or not the two sides can agree on a new CBA in time to start the 2013-14 season by next October.  You get the feeling the way negotiations have gone that both sides appear to be nestling in for a long, painful haul that could last well into next season.  Talk about ruining the game for good if that happens.

Gary Bettman recently proposed that a handful of players should meet with a handful of owners and not have any of the designated dignitaries from either side attend the meetings.  The thought behind this strategy is to try something different in hopes that enough common ground can be found that might lead to a path forward.  The players have not responded to the proposal but it’s hard to imagine that if the leaders can’t make progress and having mediators attend the meetings and still have no progress, what good will this strategy have?

By all means, I’m open to anything here that might lead to a new deal getting done, but it’s hard to remain optimistic when two federally appointed mediators can’t have any impact on the situation.  Both sides are too far apart and it’s about to cost us the season.  Talk about failure.

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