Judge Arthur Boylan

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.

From ESPNNewYork.com:

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?

Comments (8)

  1. “Reverence for the game?”

    “Pfft! Screw the game! This is business! We’re talking money here!” is the unfortunate and usual reply anymore.

  2. Mediation really isn’t going to be effective until you get to a point where both sides feel there’s a deal to be made, and I’m not sure that’s the case here. It’s great for that finishing kick, but right now it seems like any time one side thinks there’s some sort of understanding on an issue the other comes out with a ‘whoa, not so fast’ response. I hope I’m wrong, as much as I’d enjoy a stacked World Jrs. I’d prefer an actual NHL season of some sort.

    • I’m kind of questioning whether or not you read the article. Either way, its seems that a mediator is exactly what these two sides need right now, assuming you understand what it is a mediator does. Especially one who has dealt with a similar negotiation previously.

      • And why exactly are you questioning if I read the article? Because I don’t feel that either side has demonstrated a willingness to actually make a deal? What the hell are you talking about? A mediator cannot compel parties to make a deal that they don’t seem to be interested in making.

        Oh, and I’d love to here your detailed explanation of what a mediator does. Perhaps it will match up with my law school classes on labor mediation, although I have my doubts that you will come anywhere close to even a fraction of that level of understanding.

        • 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.

          I suppose I prefer the opinion of a qualified professional ie. a judge not a a student. I’d also guess at the point hey may be mistaking a mediator for an arbitrator, but either way there’s no reason to get all uppity there champ. Or perhaps you do question the opinion and qualifications, perhaps it works differently than in US than it does in Canada(which I know for a fact it does). Again I’m just making an inference based on what I’ve read in this article. I don’t consider my answer to be necessarily right, unlike you.

          • I quite enjoy you accusing me of being uppity when you came in here with the snide remarks to begin with, had you simply stated that you feel differently perhaps we could have just had a discussion. Instead you acted like a douche. This may come as a shock to you, but people can have a different opinion on things, even when they have read the same article.

            In my opinion, based on what I have read, I don’t see how a mediator will be beneficial at this point. Neither side seems to want to make a deal. I think they’re hearing each other just fine, they just don’t seem interested in actually coming to terms.

            I’m not sure where you get the idea that I think my answer is necessarily right, especially considering that my response ends with “I hope I’m wrong”, but it appears that you’ve decided that being condescending is the way to go so I’ll chalk it up to that.

            Btw, I’m well aware of the differences between a mediator and an arbitrator champ, but thanks for coming out.

          • I made a spelling mistake and put hey in place of they, when trying to explain that perhaps the reporter had mistaken a mediator for an arbitrator. I would still say that, while you are entitled to your opinion, that I prefer the one of a professional that has experience in similar circumstance over yours. While they don’t seem close to an agreement logic would dictate that they will come to one(i hope so too). So if additional help, from perhaps a mediator, hastens the process- go for it . Thanks RC, champing each other between classes has been fun, champ.

  3. Wait what? There’s no mediator now? Union/employer negotiation apperently doesn’t work the same way in the US as it does here in Sweden…

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