After talks broke down last week between the NHL and the NHLPA in the ongoing CBA negotiations, the possibility of a federal mediator becoming involved suddenly started to make the rounds in the media. NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly and NHLPA special counsel Steve Fehr have said separately the two sides would be open to the possibility, although Daly has stated that neither side has formally broached the subject.
According to Katie Strang of ESPN, the league may not have to look far to find a willing volunteer to take the on the job. Judge Arthur Boylan, a chief federal magistrate out of Minnesota, has stated he'd be more than willing to take on what could be a very important task. Boylan, a hockey fan since youth and current Minnesota Wild fan, has a personal stake in a deal getting done.
"I'd volunteer to do it for free," Boylan said. "I'd love to get this thing done."
Judge Boylan was involved as mediator between the NFL and NFLPA in the summer of 2011 and was instrumental in a deal getting done in time to keep the 2011 NFL season from being delayed.
The topic of mediation quickly gained traction over the weekend, and not just because negotiations are reaching a critical point if hopes for hockey to be played this season are to remain alive. Reports have surfaced that owners and players attending last Friday's session were guilty of a heated exchange across the tables, with Gary Bettman reportedly involved as well.
Since talks broke off on Friday, there has been no indication of further meetings between the two sides. The biggest point of contention appears to be the topic of changes to player contract rights and structures, as well as agreeing to just how much revenue should be projected and then split for the near future.