Katie Strang of ESPN wrote a column today that contained a pretty interesting tidbit: the mediator who helped the NFL and NFLPA solve their CBA crisis, Judge Arthur Boylan, is a hockey fan – a season ticket holder for the Minnesota Wild, no less – and would work with the NHL and NHLPA “for free.” I’m pretty sure that’s some hyperbole, but dude thinks he can help.
The outlook is bleak, but Boylan said there is too much at stake to see another season lost, like in 2004-05.
“They know the future of the game is in their hands,” he said. “They’d really be blowing this thing if it doesn’t get resolved, it being the second lockout in recent memory. That would be a real disaster for everybody.”
Boylan said he feels mediation is always a wise choice when two sides hit this sort of impasse — the earlier, the better. The judge was tasked with bringing together the NFL and NFLPA after a failed round of mediation before the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service lockout in April 2011.
The first thing he did?
Huddled NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and NFLPA chief DeMaurice Smith together for lunch, talking about everything but football. From his chambers, he slipped the two men out of a side door, evaded the press and found a quiet place for the three of them to grab a bite to eat.
In a nutshell, holy shit you have to talk you morons.
Both sides of this labour dispute have demonstrated a serious commitment to their positions, so it’d be foolish for either party to think the other is suddenly going to crack. “Okay we were bluffing where’s the pen” is not a sentence that’s going to be spoken any time soon.
That the NFL and NBA used mediators to come to an agreement (even though the NBA missed some games) speaks volumes to how difficult it is to get a deal done. That the NHL believes it can do it on its own basically screams “we’re not looking for a fair deal, we’re looking for more.”
And here we sit, with two sides who both say they’d be open to mediation, and a mediator eager to help, twiddling our thumbs, watching more games slowly walk The Green Mile.
From Judge Boylan:
“This sounds corny, but it’s the honest-to-God truth. You saw how passionate both sides were about the game, how much love they had for the game, and they knew how much was riding on whether they resolved the case, for the future of the game,” he said. “These guys had reverence for the game, and they were stewards for that game. They weren’t going to blow it. I’m not saying money wasn’t important, but there really was a mutual respect there.”
“I’d love to take a crack at it, because it’s truly the game I love,” he said. “And from a selfish standpoint, you’d really like to see them back on the ice.”
“Reverence for the game.” Hmm…why does it feel like that may be missing in this case?