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Richards doubtful mediation can solve lockout

Nov 27, 2012, 4:27 PM EDT

Brad Richards AP

The news that federal mediators have been brought in to help solve the NHL lockout hasn’t been met with a ton of optimism.

On Monday, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly gave it a less-than-ringing endorsement, saying only, “We’ll see how it goes and perhaps something good will come of it.”

While the NHLPA seemed more open to the idea of third-party intervention as the work stoppage dragged on, Rangers forward Brad Richards is doubtful it will lead anywhere good.

On Tuesday, Richards told the Daily News that if the NHL has indeed made its best and final offer to the players, “I don’t know what a mediator’s going to do.”

The NHL had previously questioned the usefulness of mediation, citing the belief that each side fully understood the other side’s position.

And that, according to Gary R. Roberts, dean and professor of law at Indiana University, is why mediators may have trouble bridging the gap between the league and union.

“My guess is just based on past history and the tone of the way things are going right now is that this is probably not going to produce a settlement,” Roberts told the Washington Times. “This isn’t like a hysterical couple doing divorces or a commercial dispute where one side or the other is just being totally unrealistic. These are two very sophisticated and experienced groups. I just don’t see how much a mediator can bring to the table other than to remind them of what’s at stake periodically.”

The NHL’s dispute with the players isn’t a particularly complicated one. At this point, it appears more a game of chicken than one side trying to convince the other to see its point of view, and vice-versa.

But hey, maybe mediation will help.

Beats sitting around wondering about it.

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