TORONTO (AP) -- NHL labor negotiations will resume Wednesday, with mediators rejoining the talks
at an undisclosed location in an effort to save the hockey season. The Canadian Press, on Tuesday,
reported the restart of bargaining between the league and the union, citing unidentified people on both
sides of the lockout.
U.S. federal mediators Scot Beckenbaugh and John Sweeney are to return to the process... They took
part in sessions Nov. 27th, and 28th, before deciding they couldn't help... The Federal Mediation and
Conciliation Service, based in Washington DC, also was involved during the lockout that had canceled
the 2004-05 NHL season, with Beckenbaugh attending sessions. And, as recently as last week, NHL
Commissioner Gary Bettman indicated he didn't think mediators would be able to help bridge the gap.
''We're not interested in mediation,'' he said Thursday. ''We went through it a week and a half ago. It was
of no value because of the position of the parties.'' Tuesday marked the 87th day of the current lockout...
Wednesday's session will be the first meeting since the sides blamed each other after talks had broken
off, last week.
Until then, they appeared to be making progress during three days in New York in which they exchanged
proposals. Union executive director Donald Fehr maintains there are general agreements on almost all
of the important issues. From the league's point-of-view, there are 3 main issues remaining: the length
of the collective bargaining agreement, rules governing term limits on contracts and the transition rules
to help teams get under the salary cap.
There are also 3 secondary issues (yet to be agreed on), including the continued participation of NHL
players in the Olympics, the international calendar, and drug-testing rules.
In all, more than 40 percent of the regular season that was originally scheduled to begin on October 11,
has been scratched. The NHL eliminated 16 more days from the regular-season schedule, on Monday,
canceling games through Dec. 30 in addition to the New Year's Day Winter Classic and All-Star Game,
which were already wiped out. The latest cancellations generally were regarded as both bad news and
While losing another two weeks hurts the league and the players, the fact that the NHL did not take more
games off of the schedule sparked speculation owners are holding out hope of making a deal that could
start the season in early January.