Mediator apparently not in NHL plans
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The much larger dispute surrounding them -- collective bargaining between the NHL and the NHL Players' Association during the ongoing lockout -- can't be solved nearly so easily, if it can be solved at all.
One thought gaining some steam in some quarters is adding a mediator to the negotiations.
Would that appeal to Penguins forward and NHLPA representative Craig Adams?
"Sure," Adams said without hesitation Tuesday after another installment of lockout practice at Southpointe.
Monday, union special counsel Steve Fehr said the players would be interested in bringing in an impartial third party, but that the owners weren't very receptive. A professional mediator, or arbitrator, might be able to break what seems to have become another stalemate.
Although there has been contact between the NHL and the union, there have not been formal talks since Sunday, and those talks haven't included the core economic issues since Friday. As of Tuesday evening, no bargaining sessions were scheduled.
Adams suggested that there's a reason the union is interested in mediation, while the NHL isn't so much.
"I think we would welcome it because I think if you look at the situation objectively, there's no question we're making all the concessions," he said. "I wouldn't be afraid of it, but I'm not holding my breath that's going to happen."
Adams' assessment echoes the thoughts of teammate and face of the NHL Sidney Crosby, who Monday expressed dissatisfaction with the "one-sided" nature of negotiations. Crosby isn't sure if a mediator is the answer.
"Whatever would help," Crosby said. "I'm not sure what that entails."
Crosby's comments on his frustration with the negotiation process and with what he believes is an unwillingness on the league's part to make concessions have gotten wide play the past couple of days in his native Canada. But the lockout that began when the previous collective bargaining agreement expired in mid-September, is just as discouraging for other players.
"Everyone wants to play hockey, so it's frustrating," Penguins winger Tyler Kennedy said. "I believe in our union. I stand by them. I'm just trying to be patient right now."
With or without the intervention of a mediator, the sides need to agree on a long list of issues. It starts with how to define and split the hockey-related revenue -- something along the lines of 50-50 seems most likely, but arriving there has been difficult -- but it also includes several player-contract rules and a variety of lesser topics ranging from scheduling to safety to Olympics participation. An added headache is figuring out how to handle a shortened season if one is to be held.
The NHL has canceled the schedule through the end of November.
Adams said any perception that the league has softened is skewed, based on an opening proposal the NHL made last summer that dropped the players' share of revenue from 57 percent to 50 percent and cut into many of the player contract rights that were adopted under the previous CBA.
"Certainly, they've made steps in our direction based on their original proposals," Adams said. "But, if you compare it to anything we have in [the expired] agreement, we're not gaining anything. It's just a question of how much are we giving up. We've offered to give up a lot already. They feel that's not enough. At some point, we're not going to give up any more."
NOTES -- The Penguins who skated besides Adams, Kennedy and Crosby were defensemen Matt Niskanen and Ben Lovejoy, and forwards Pascal Dupuis, Chris Kunitz, Matt Cooke and Joe Vitale, and goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury. Former Penguin Brent Johnson manned the other net. ... After practice, Kunitz played goalkeeper and Fleury was a forward as they joined a lunchtime pickup indoor soccer game on a new turf surface on the other side of the facility.
First Published November 14, 2012 12:00 am