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Presence of mediator not inspiring optimism for NHL lockout

| Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2012, 6:48 p.m.

News that the NHL and its Players' Association have agreed to consult with mediators did not generate much optimism among the Penguins who skated at Southpointe on Tuesday.

In fact, it barely produced a reaction.

“I don't know if it's going to make much of a difference,” Penguins player representative Craig Adams said. “Hopefully, it can't hurt.”

The Federal Mediation & Conciliation Service is set to oversee negotiations between the league and union beginning Wednesday. Primary issues dividing the league and union include annual revenue split, money to honor current contracts and other contractual issues.

NHL owners locked players out Sept. 15. Since then, little progress has been made in negotiations while the threat of a second lost season in eight years has become real.

“I don't want to get too excited about any of this,” Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said. “But if this is something that will at least get both sides talking every day, I guess it's a good thing.”

The NHL and union are slated to meet Wednesday at an undisclosed location, both sides have confirmed. The Federal Mediation & Conciliation Service will not comment on negotiations going forward.

There has been an undercurrent among NHL players that league owners aren't interested in speeding the negotiating process along.

Adams suggested that, unless the league is legitimately hungry to make a deal in time to save the season, the presence of a mediator is irrelevant.

He also seemed only slightly more than dismissive about any notion that a mediator will move things along.

“From what I understand,” Adams said, “it's just someone who can try to facilitate dialogue and maybe find some areas of compromise.

“It's not like an arbitrator where they can make a decision. I don't even think they'll make recommendations. But I don't know the ins and outs.”

He does know one thing for certain.

“The way it was expressed to me,” said Adams, “is that a skilled mediator can be very helpful in negotiations. But only if both sides are motivated to make a deal.”

Josh Yohe is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at jyohe@tribweb.com.

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