Federal mediators join NHL labor discussions


WASHINGTON — Fed­eral me­di­a­tors are en­ter­ing the stalled NHL la­bor talks, with the sea­son's first 2½ months al­ready lost be­cause of the lock­out.

George Co­hen, di­rec­tor of the Fed­eral Me­di­a­tion and Con­cil­i­a­tion Ser­vice, said Mon­day the par­ties had agreed to use the agency. He as­signed three me­di­a­tors to as­sist ne­go­ti­a­tions — dep­uty di­rec­tor Scot Beck­en­baugh, di­rec­tor of me­di­a­tion ser­vices John Sweeney, and Com­mis­sioner Guy Serota.

"While we have no par­tic­u­lar level of ex­pec­ta­tion go­ing into this pro­cess, we wel­come a new ap­proach in try­ing to reach a res­o­lu­tion of the on­go­ing la­bor dis­pute at the ear­li­est pos­si­ble date," NHL dep­uty com­mis­sioner Bill Daly said.

Co­hen has worked with the play­ers' as­so­ci­a­tions for Ma­jor League Base­ball, help­ing end the 1994-95 strike as an out­side coun­sel, and the NBA. He was an ad­viser to the NHL play­ers' union be­fore join­ing FMCS three years ago.

"We look for­ward to their in­volve­ment as we con­tinue work­ing to reach an eq­ui­ta­ble agree­ment for both the play­ers and the own­ers," said Don­ald Fehr, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the NHL Play­ers' As­so­ci­a­tion.

Co­hen me­di­ated dur­ing the 2010 ne­go­ti­a­tions in Ma­jor League Soc­cer and 2011 talks in the NFL and NBA, along with this year's dis­pute be­tween the NFL and its on-field of­fi­cials.

Play­ers and man­age­ment have not ne­go­ti­ated since Wed­nes­day. The NHL has can­celed more than one-third of its reg­u­lar sea­son, in­clud­ing all games through Dec. 14, the New Year's Day out­door Winter Clas­sic, and the All-Star week­end Jan. 26-27 at Co­lum­bus, Ohio.

"I have had sep­a­rate, in­for­mal dis­cus­sions with the key rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the Na­tional Hockey League and the Na­tional Hockey League Play­ers' As­so­ci­a­tion," Co­hen said.