If all a mediator is going to do is ask the players, "Would you accept the owners' most recent offer if it was put back on the table?" then it's a useless process.
We know the players don't like that deal. And we know the league isn't budging.
At least not now (for both sides). This is such an enormous waste, a stall tactic to try and convince everyone something is happening. Several players have said numerous times that things are "so close," but we've hit a rush hour-style Lincoln Tunnel traffic jam.
This process needs a shot of adrenaline, like Uma Thurman's heart in Pulp Fiction.
Last week, after both sides angrily walked away, the NHL considered cancelling games right up to Jan. 14. But, there are times for the hammer and times for the velvet. Both sides are sufficiently angry at each other, and being overly punitive doesn't help.
When the union suggested mediation, the league backed away from two extra weeks of cancellations. After watching Wednesday's farce, I kind of wish they'd done it. At least we'd be at the brink. Something would have to happen or the season would be over.
For the same reason, I'd like to see the players file their "Disclaimer of Interest." There is some nervousness about it, because the NHL will likely respond with the wrath of Zeus -- despite a worst-case scenario of billions in damages.
Whatever happens, it probably brings about the end of this -- one way or another. This is the most self-destructive behaviour ever, and I grew up with four teenage sisters.
We keep hearing that there is so much lobbying behind the scenes. That people on both sides are pushing Gary Bettman and Donald Fehr to make a deal. That everyone understands a new CBA can be done in days once everyone decides to get serious.
Whatever those efforts, they are not nearly impactful enough. Each side is waiting, final concessions in their pocket, not willing to move too soon.
The league says, "We've moved back towards you." The players say, "Don't insult us by bringing up that first offer. We're not gaining anything from the previous CBA."
As one player not involved in Wednesday's meetings said, "You expect the worst, but hope for the best."
Non-binding mediation is the worst. A waste of time. A useless process. No mediator is going to get them to budge. It's all about the calendar, and it's got too many days remaining.
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