The National Hockey League and the NHL Players' Association met with federal mediators for a second day on Thursday in an attempt to spur negotiations towards a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, but the news was far from promising.
"Today, we concluded two days of mediation with FMCS (Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service) mediators and representatives of the NHL Players' Association. 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," said NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly.
"We are disappointed that the mediation process was not successful."
Multiple additional reports surfaced following the league-issued statement that commissioner Gary Bettman offered the players the chance to meet owners face-to-face, without any representatives from either side involved. Nonetheless, the union remained neutral when issuing its own statement.
"Today, players and NHLPA staff, along with representatives of the league, concluded a second day of mediation under the auspices of the FMCS. This afternoon, the mediators informed the parties that they did not think it was productive to continue the discussions further today," said NHLPA executive director Don 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."
Mediation by a third party was also sought out twice during the 2004-05 lockout; once as a last-ditch effort to save the season in February of 2005, and once more during the following summer, with no positive outcome. The hope is an objective party will help get the negotiating process on track.
It has been widely speculated that the players' next move will be to decertify the union.
The current work stoppage, which began on Sept. 16, has already caused the cancellation of 422 regular-season games as well as the Winter Classic and All-Star Weekend.