NHL Lockout: Binding Arbitration Is Only Way to Save Hockey

Rick Weiner@RickWeinerNYFeatured ColumnistDecember 6, 2012

Did you hear the one about when the NHL tried to set up a podium?
Did you hear the one about when the NHL tried to set up a podium?Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

We are back where we started, with the NHL and NHLPA agreeing once again to disagree.

We might as well have Pete Burns and Dead or Alive overseeing the labor talks, for as they sang back in 1985: "You spin me right round baby, right round, like a record baby, right round round round."

You'll have to forgive me for being a sucker for terrible 80s music, but that's how it feels for fans of the NHL.

We are stuck on a never-ending loop of terrible music, constantly spinning in circles until we either get nauseous or fall down, powerless to stop the spinning.

This time, the players are calling for federal mediators to intervene, a premise the owners have flatly rejected, according to Liz Mullen of the Sports Business Journal:

Hear the NHL players just asked again today for mediators to be brought into the NHL talks and the owners said, "No."#NHL

— Liz Mullen (@SBJLizMullen) December 6, 2012

The two sides tried involving federal mediators last week, something that anyone with half a brain knew was an exercise in futility before the process even got underway.

Predictably, we were proven right.

The federal mediators jumped from the sinking ship that is the NHL labor talks only 48 hours after getting involved, as explained to us by deputy NHL commissioner Bill Daly (h/t Sporting News):

Today, we concluded two days of mediation with FMCS mediators and representatives of the NHL Players Association. After spending several hours with both sides over two days, the presiding mediators concluded that the parties remained far apart, and that no progress toward a resolution could be made through further mediation at this point in time. We are disappointed that the mediation process was not successful.



The owners were about as upset that federal mediation failed as Peter Griffin is listening to his favorite song.

How or why the player's association has managed to convince itself that bringing federal mediators back into the fold is a good idea is beyond me.

Did Donald Fehr gather his negotiating team and say, "Hey guys, it worked so well the last time, we've got to do it again!"?

It makes no sense to go back to something that has already been proven to not work and be nothing more than a colossal waste of everyone's time.

It's time to try something new, something that will guarantee that the NHL has at least half of a season in the first half of 2013.

Binding arbitration.

Get three arbitrators and let each side present their case. Then, allow those with no axe to grind make the final decision on the CBA.

What's the worst that can happen?

Hockey would be played again and both sides would start earning money again.

What a terrible tragedy that would be for all involved. (Feel free to wipe the sarcasm dripping off of your screen.)

For this to happen, both sides would have to agree that neither side is capable of making the difficult choices and of doing what needs to be done in order to salvage the 2012-13 season––something that we are supposed to believe is the ultimate goal of everyone involved.

It's clear that neither side has any intention of coming to an agreement anytime soon, and time is one thing that the 2012-13 NHL season simply doesn't have on their side.

The owners and the players need to demand this of those that they entrusted with the future of their sport.

Another lost season simply cannot be an option for the NHL.


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