Enter the marriage counselors to the NHL’s labor dispute.
Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service director George H. Cohen issued the following statement Monday:
“I have had separate, informal discussions with the key representatives of the National Hockey League and the National Hockey League Players’ Association during the course of their negotiations for a successor collective bargaining agreement.
“At the invitation of the FMCS, and with the agreement of both parties, the ongoing negotiations will now be conducted under our auspices. I have assigned Deputy Director Scot L. Beckenbaugh, Director of Mediation Services John Sweeney, and Commissioner Guy Serota to serve as the mediators.
“Due to the extreme sensitivity of these negotiations and consistent with the FMCS’s long-standing practice, the Agency will refrain from any public comment concerning the future schedule and/or the status of the negotiations until further notice.”
NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly confirmed the development to the Star Tribune’s Michael Russo.
“The FMCS reached out to both sides independently, and apparently we both agreed that we are prepared to explore the process,” said Daly.
“I have no level of expectation at this point. We’ll see how it goes and perhaps something good will come of it.”
The mediation will not be binding.
The NHL had previously questioned the usefulness of mediation in its dispute with the players, citing the belief that each side fully understood the other side’s position.
Update: NHLPA head Donald Fehr released this statement regarding mediation (via CSNChicago.com’s Tracey Myers):
“The NHLPA has agreed to the addition of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS) to our ongoing negotiations. We look forward to (mediators’) involvement as we continue working to reach an equitable agreement for both players and owners.”