The NHL and NHLPA concluded two days with federal mediators on Thursday, with no progress was made on any front.
There are no immediate plans for either side to meet with the mediators again, and no further bargaining meetings have been scheduled between the players and the league. The NHL and NHLPA can go back through the mediation route if they come closer to a new Collective Bargaining Agreement in the next four to six weeks, but -- as with this go-round -- there are no guarantees.
"Today, we concluded two days of mediation with FMCS mediators and representatives of the NHL Players' Association," NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said in a statement. "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. We are disappointed that the mediation process was not successful."
With no bargaining sessions on tap, the Dec. 5 NHL Board of Governors meeting becomes the next big date on the schedule of events. NHLPA Executive Director Donald Fehr also released a statement following the meeting with federal mediators, and said they may be utilized again down the line.
"Today, players and the NHLPA staff, along with representatives of the league, concluded a second day of mediation under the auspices of the FMCS," said Fehr. "This afternoon the mediators informed the parties that they did not think it was productive to continue the discussions further today. 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."
Perhaps there will be a number of NHL owners who will decide to press for an end to the lockout, which has cost both the league and the players millions of dollars. But, more likely, the next step will probably be a discussion of potential nuclear options for each side:
NHLPA union decertification chatter has been gaining in volume among the players over the last week, and it's a road the league could be legitimately afraid to walk down. While actual decertification could take up to two months, the NHLPA could file a disclaimer of interest, which basically means Fehr and the NHLPA no longer represent the players.
That action would be immediate, and would essentially accomplish the same goal as decertification. It would allow the players to file antitrust lawsuits, and seek potentially significant damages from the league for lost wages.
Similarly there have been rumblings the NHL owners are ready to pull the 211 million make whole offer from the table as more games get cancelled, and the Hockey Related Revenue sum continues to shrink due to the lockout.
But for now there is just silence as the lockout heads toward its fourth month.