Former NFL labor mediator on NHL lockout: “I’d volunteer to do it for free”

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The U.S. Magistrate Judge that mediated NFL-NFLPA talks wants a crack at solving the NHL lockout.

“I’d volunteer to do it for free,” Arthur Boylan told ESPN New York. “I’d love to get this thing done.”

Boylan, who helped bridge the gap between NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and NFLPA boss DeMaurice Smith last year, also happens to be a huge hockey fan.

He recently received a refund for part of his Minnesota Wild season tickets and says that there’s too much at stake for more games to be lost.

“They know the future of the game is in their hands,” he said of the NHL and NHLPA. “They’d really be blowing this thing if it doesn’t get resolved, it being the second lockout in recent memory.

“That would be a real disaster for everybody.”

Here’s more, from ESPN’s Katie Strang:

Boylan said he feels mediation is always a wise choice when two sides hit this sort of impasse — the earlier, the better. The judge was tasked with bringing together the NFL and NFLPA after a failed round of mediation before the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service lockout in April 2011.

The first thing he did?

Huddled NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and NFLPA chief DeMaurice Smith together for lunch, talking about everything but football. From his chambers, he slipped the two men out of a side door, evaded the press and found a quiet place for the three of them to grab a bite to eat.

Goodell and Smith had a D.C. connection, Boylan found, a small tie but not too trivial to work with.

“Part of the whole thing about mediation is finding common ground, even if it’s something unrelated. You can find camaraderie in anything,” Boylan said. “And boy, there sure are a lot of traditions in hockey and a love for the sport. One thing leads to another and that commonality, that sure goes a long way.”

The NFL lockout lasted from Mar. 11 to Jul. 25 — 136 days in total.

That said, the Pro Football Hall of Fame game was the only on-field cancelation of the work stoppage.

Related: Will the NHL, union seek a federal mediator soon?