Negotiations between the NHL and the NHL Players’ Association will resume, Wednesday, but this time they’re looking for the help of an impartial third party.
The two sides are expected to meet separately with U.S. federal mediators in an effort to end the labour dispute that’s now in its 11th week.
The mediation will be non-binding, meaning the sides will not be forced to go along with suggestions or recommendations made by mediators Scot L. Beckenbaugh and John Sweeney.
“A mediator has no special powers — can’t order anyone to do anything and say ‘this is the contract’ — but people are trained and they’re pretty skilled in it, so hopefully they’ll be of help,” NHLPA boss Donald Fehr told Sportsnet 590 The Fan’s “Prime Time Sports.”
Allowing U.S. federal mediators into the process was something the NHL tried without success on a couple of occasions prior to the cancellation of the 2004-05 season.
In fact, Beckenbaugh sat in on sessions at that time, including one just three days before commissioner Gary Bettman cancelled the entire season in February 2005.
The NHL lockout has so far forced the league to cancel 422 regular-season games, plus the Jan. 1, 2013, Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium and the Jan. 27 All-Star Game in Columbus, Ohio.
Bettman has said the league is losing as much as $20-million per day during the lockout.