A Man in the Middle

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:02 AM ET

Before Total Armageddon, the NHL might want to try mediation. Dismissed by both sides throughout the countdown to the lockout and the subsequent three-month hiatus, the idea of a third party might soon be the only alternative to a lost season.

"Every situation is different," said Reg Pearson, Director of Labour Management Services for the province, whose department oversaw the process that put the Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators in a legal lockout position under the Ontario Labour Relations Act.

"At first, there are quiet talks to see if there is flexibility," said Pearson, adding mediation must be a voluntary process.

'WHAT IF' SCENARIOS

"You test the waters for common ground. You could then get up a small group, including the two lead negotiators, for off-the-record discussions and play out some 'what-if' scenarios.

"You have to get the main guys into position and warn them that the deal they will get may not be what they thought it would look like. You look for the glimmers, some concepts that have to be flushed out that might lead to something."

With a deadline, tension heightens as the mediator works both sides.

"I recall some that went on two or three days without few breaks, but you saw the moment when things would break," he said.


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