NHL Talks Wednesday

December 12, 2012 by  

NHL Talks Wednesday, After the “emotional frenzy” of last week – in the unusually emotive words of NHL commissioner Gary Bettman – the league and the NHL Players’ Association will once more convene Wednesday, to slog towards a possible deal, again aided by two federal U.S. mediators. The urgency, hope and chaos of three days of talks last week, direct negotiations between players and owners, has receded to something of an icy calm.

The sides have not been closer to near-full agreement, yet the NHL still dismissively rejects the idea a deal is tangibly close at hand. Union chief Don Fehr insists the two sides are close.

The Wednesday meeting, between union representatives and some players, and Bettman and his staff, is set for an undisclosed location.

Reporters are expressly unwelcome.

Whether keeping the talks covert and away from prying glares produces any tangible progress is unclear. Whether mediation, round 2, will help is also unclear. It was a total failure two weeks ago, which propelled many to despair that the 2012-13 season was near death.

The owners made a rare concession to players, by agreeing to more mediation – after Bettman last Thursday said he had “no interest” in mediation and described it of “no value.” (The mediators are from the Washington-based Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, where Scot Beckenbaugh is deputy director and knows the NHL well, having been in ultimately failed talks in 2004-05, and again two weeks ago. Director of mediation services John Sweeney is the other mediator.)

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