Mediation talks between NHL & NHLPA break down with no resolution, Bettman proposes players & owners meet, a call for NHL contraction, and more.

CANADIAN PRESS (VIA NATIONAL POST): Chris Johnston reports two days of mediation failed to break the stalemate in NHL CBA negotiations between the NHL and NHLPA. “The union thought it had moved quite close to the NHL last week when it offered a 50-50 split of revenues and $393 million in transition payments, but the league was unwilling to move off its latest proposal”, reports Johnston, who also noted the league’s latest offer still remains on the table. Speculation could only grow the PA might consider decertification or disclaiming interest as a means of putting pressure upon the NHL owners to end the lockout.

Mediation fails to end NHL lockout.

THE SPORTING NEWS: Jesse Spector believes the mediation talks were only the league’s way of killing time and putting more pressure upon the players to capitulate. It’s clear now the lockout is more than just about money, as player contract rights are becoming more of a sticking point than anyone originally believed.

SPORTSNET.CA: John Shannon believes by next Wednesday’s NHL Board of Governors meeting the debate over NHLPA decertification will grow. He feels decertification is real and could happen quickly.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Disclaiming interest would take place faster than decertification. In a nutshell, the PA leadership declares it no longer represents the NHL players, allowing them to then file a lawsuit against the league to have the lockout declared illegal, but as CBC’s Dan Oldfield (via Elliotte Friedman) observed, the league could try to counter that by suspending operations, which prevents anti-trust lawsuits. Oldfield suggests the PA will instead file an unfair labor practice complaint.

ESPN.COM: Pierre LeBrun reports NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman proposed a select group of owners and players should meet without league or PA negotiators present in hopes of finding some common ground toward a resolution. The PA leadership is reportedly discussing this option. LeBrun suggests if he were in the PA he’d invite all 30 NHL owners to attend, except for Bruins owner and Board of Governor chairman Jeremy Jacobs, who is the harshest of the league hardliners.

YAHOO! SPORTS: Nicholas J. Cotsonika suggests Bettman’s offer “smells like a trap” and “seems like a PR move”, but nevertheless suggests it might be worthwhile trying since everything else has failed at this point. He also advocates all the owners, or at least a cross-section, of them to attend, and allow the players to have legal representation.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ll be shocked if the PA agrees to this, as the early word emerging from their camp was they consider Bettman’s offer merely “a stunt”. Still, if they do surprise me and agree to this, I don’t see them condoning a players meeting with the owners without legal counsel. I’ve also heard the league wants to select the players to attend the meeting. If so, the only fair thing is to allow the PA to select the owners to attend. I agree with LeBrun that Jacobs shouldn’t be part of the negotiations. Word is every time he attends negotiations, whatever progress was made immediately stalls.

THE GLOBE AND MAIL: Former NHLPA president Trevor Linden said  if he had to do it again he’d get involved in NHL CBA negotiations. “It’s disappointing to see the game not being where it should be — and that’s on the ice,” he said Thursday. “I follow (the dispute), but it’s not my issue anymore. So I’m happy to be on the sidelines.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The headline is misleading as it makes it sound as though Linden were offering up his services. He’s not, nor do I expect the PA or the league would come calling to ask him to get involved.

 NBC SPORTS PRO HOCKEY TALK: Long time LA Kings PA announcer David Courtney has passed away.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Courtney’s family, friends, the Kings organization and fans.