x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

NHL: Mediators appointed in bid to end lockout

Hockey team owners and players will meet for fresh talks after third party mediators were brought in to end the Dh12.1bn dispute that threatens to wipe out the new season.

The NHL lockout takes effect at the Rogers Arena, home of the Vancouver Canucks.
The NHL lockout takes effect at the Rogers Arena, home of the Vancouver Canucks.

Mediators have been called in following the failure of the latest round of talks between hockey chiefs and players aimed at getting the new season under way.

The National Hockey League's players union and owners have agreed to bring in third party mediation to get meaningful talks on a new collective bargaining agreement underway once more, after seeing weeks of the new season wiped out by the dispute.

"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," confirmed George Cohen, federal mediation director.

"With the agreement of both parties, the continuing negotiations will now be conducted under our auspices."

Mediation was also part of the 2004-05 lockout when the NHL missed its entire season because of a labour dispute.

The NHL had been scheduled to open its regular season on November 2, but the current lockout has caused the cancellation of 422 regular-season games - plus this year's Winter Classic and All-Star games.

Games have now been shelved until December 15, with fears the entire season will be lost to the dispute.

Both parties are expected to resume mediated talks as early as this week, at a secret location.

NHLPA executive director Don Fehr welcomed the mediators.

"The NHLPA has agreed to the addition of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service to our continuing negotiations," he said.

"We look forward to their involvement as we continue working to reach an equitable agreement for both the players and the owners."

The NHL has admitted the lockout is costing the organisation up to $20 million (Dh73.5m) a day.

Both sides of the dispute remain at odds over how to split $3.3 billion in hockey related revenue, although they have agreed in principle to a 50-50 split.

Owners are demanding an immediate reduction from the 57 per cent players received under the previous agreement while the union would like to see the cuts brought in gradually.