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Mediation Saves the NHL Season
In December 2012, CONDOCENTRIC.ca circulated my article titled “Mediation Misconceptions & the NHL Lockout” which clarified several misunderstandings highlighted by the media as to the purpose and process of mediation. Among the clarifications pointed out was that separating the parties is not necessarily a sign that negotiations are failing.  I went on to make the point that this “tool” is often utilized to help quarreling parties bridge the gap, particularly if emotions are running high (i.e. if they cannot stand the sight of each other).
Since the news broke early on January 6, 2013 that, after a 16 hour group session, the framework for a new collective bargaining agreement to permit the 2012-13 NHL season to proceed had been established, the involvement of federal mediator Scot Beckenbaugh has been widely heralded as a significant reason for the return of hockey.
In reviewing the key events that shaped the lockout and its impending conclusion, many media sources, including TSN.ca, are identifying January 4, 2013 as a turning point. On this date, the NHL and NHLPA did not meet in person yet progress was made as Mr. Beckenbaugh met individually with each party, conducting what is known as shuttle mediation:
“The mediator’s constant three-block walks over 13 hours Friday between the NHL office and the hotel in which union representatives were staying laid the groundwork, calmed the anger, built the trust, and brought the sides back to the bargaining table for the 16-hour talks that finally led to an agreement.” – Ira Podell, Associated Press
As has been widely reported, following the shuttle mediation sessions of January 4, 2013, Mr. Beckenbaugh resumed meetings on January 5, 2013, continuing to individually caucus with each side before bringing the parties together for a joint session that commenced around 1pm that afternoon and ended at approximately 5am on Sunday, January 6, 2013 with the news that the lockout was ending.
Notwithstanding sentiments that the lockout ought not to have been so prolonged, or even have taken place at all, it did take place and mediation was key in it coming to an end.
What is the cost of a “dispute avoided”?  Douglas Porter, the Managing Director and Deputy Chief Economist at BMO Capital Markets, has shared analysis of the economic impact of the NHL lockout. With hockey resuming, estimates are that the total impact of the lockout is approximately 0.05% of Canada’s GDP, about half of the impact forecasted had the entire season been lost. Accordingly, mediation has offered not only good news for suffering hockey fans but economic advantages as well, particularly for the people and businesses whose livelihood is dependent on NHL games being played – the ushers, parking lot attendants, in-game entertainers, broadcasters, bars and restaurants located close to arenas, merchandise shops, etcetera, who have been most impacted by the lockout. 
An end to the NHL lockout – a mediation success story!

By Marc Bhalla - January 2013
Hons. B.A., Q. Med. - Mediator and Senior Clerk

Ext:  811
Email:  mbhalla@elia.org 
Toll-Free:  1-866-446-0811


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 All of the information contained in this article is of a general nature for informational purposes only, and is not intended to represent the definitive opinion of the firm of Elia Associates on any particular matter. Although every effort is made to ensure that the information contained in this newsletter is accurate and up-to-date, the reader should not act upon it without obtaining appropriate professional advice and assistance.


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