After having a mediator talk with each side and eventually weigh-in on a meeting between the NHL and NHLPA yesterday, the Federal Mediation Conciliation Service has stated the sides remain far apart. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has since proposed the two sides take the next step by way of an “owner-player-only meeting.”
The FMCS said further mediation would not help progress towards a deal at this time. With the looming threat of NHLPA decertification and no future meetings scheduled with the mediation service, Bettman has suggested the players and owners leadership meet to work towards a new deal.
This appears to be the only way left to save the season. As the NHL has mentioned, NHLPA decertification would likely be a drawn-out process in which the season would be lost. Though most hockey analysts like the idea, player agent Allan Walsh tweeted that the productivity depends on which owners attend the meeting.
“I’m not against an owners-players meeting, would depend though on which owners allowed to attend. If same four, waste of time.”
NHLPA Executive Director has yet to reveal his plans in regards to future meetings, but did say he would stay in contact with the mediators.
“The mediators informed the parties that they did not think it was productive to continue the discussions further today,” said Fehr. “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.”
The two sides remain torn at the seams in terms of getting a new deal. The players want $393 million as part of a make-whole provision to ensure they get money that will be lost through revenue cuts and contract reductions. Contract rules remain at the center of the problem, however. The owners want to cap contract terms to five years and adjust current contracts via arbitration, while the players want contract freedom to remain.
If the next set of bargaining sessions go sour, we could very well see an attempt by the players to decertify the union.
Effectively, this would outlaw the lockout under antitrust laws, if granted by the courts. This would eliminate the need for a Collective Bargaining Agreement, thus ending the lockout. However, as stated, this process could be lengthy and cost the season. However, the mere threat of a decertification could prompt progress towards a deal.
The 1994-95 lockout allowed for about half a season after an agreement was reached in early January. This gives the players and owners roughly 40 days to reach a new deal and begin a meaningful season.