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U.S. Mediators to Step Into Stalled NHL Contract Discussions

The U.S. Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service said it’s stepping into the stalled contract talks between the National Hockey League and its players.

The agency issued a statement today in Washington saying it had been in informal discussions with the two sides, and that the talks would now be conducted “under our auspices.”

The independent U.S. government service, headed by George H. Cohen, specializes in labor disputes. The service has been part of previous contract negotiations with the National Football League and National Basketball Association. Mediators are often brought into disputes in an attempt to restart stalled talks and provide guidance to the two sides. A mediator’s ruling isn’t binding.

“While we have no particular level of expectation going into this process, we welcome a new approach in trying to reach a resolution of the ongoing labor dispute at the earliest possible date,” Bill Daly, the NHL’s deputy commissioner, said in a statement.

Jonathan Weatherdon, a spokesman for the NHL Players’ Association, confirmed the mediation and said the union had no additional comment.

The NHL locked out players on Sept. 16 and the dispute has forced the cancellation of more than a third of the regular season, including the outdoor Winter Classic, plus the All-Star Game.

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