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Mediator ends role in NHL lockout talks

NEW YORK -- Two days of mediated talks between the players union and the owners failed to end the 75-day-old National Hockey League lockout on Thursday.

The NHL owners and the NHL Players Association met with federal mediators in an attempt to kick-start talks towards a new collective bargaining agreement, but both sides said little or no progress was made.

“Today, we concluded two days of mediation with FMCS (Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service) mediators and representatives of the NHL Players' Association,” said NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly.

“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 players union said that while the mediators were out of the picture for the moment, they could be brought back into the talks at a later date.

“Today, players and NHLPA staff, along with representatives of the league, concluded a second day of mediation under the auspices of the FMCS,” said NHLPA executive director Don Fehr.

“This afternoon, the mediators informed the parties that they did not think it was productive to continue the discussions further today.

“The mediators indicated that they would stay in contact with the league and the NHLPA, and would call the parties back together when they thought the time was right.”

Third-party mediation was used during the 2004-05 NHL lockout without success.

One possibility is for the players to decertify the union which would allow them to launch lawsuits against the owners.

Anaheim Ducks veteran Teemu Selanne, who is involved in his third NHL lockout, is still hopeful a season can be salvaged but he doesn't think decertification is the answer.

“Decertification would be a last resort,” Selanne said after skating with a group of about 15 members of the Ducks and Los Angeles Kings at Anaheim Ice arena Thursday.

“I can't see that happening. You do that then you guarantee you would piss the other side off.

“I believe December is the do-or-die month. The NHL is trying to break us down by saying 'take it or leave it'. If this goes the whole month of December there will be no season.”

The work stoppage, which began on Sept. 16, has already caused the cancellation of 422 regular-season games as well as the Winter Classic and the All-Star Game.

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