The National Hockey League and National Hockey League Players' Association have jointly agreed to meet with federal mediators to aid the sides in negotiations toward establishing a new Collective Bargaining Agreement.
"We are able to confirm that we have agreed to a request by the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service to engage in meetings with the Union that will involve the participation of Federal Mediators," NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said. "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.
"We have no further comment on the upcoming meetings at the current time."
Federal Mediation and Conciliation Services Director George H. Cohen said in a statement that he has assigned Deputy Director Scot L. Beckenbaugh and Director of Mediation Services John Sweeney to serve as the mediators between the NHL and NHLPA.
"I have had separate, informal discussions with the key representatives of the National Hockey League and National Hockey League Players' Association during the course of their negotiations for a successor Collective Bargaining Agreement," Cohen said in the statement. "At the invitation of the FMCS, and with the agreement of both parties, the ongoing negotiations will now be conducted under our auspices."
NHLPA Executive Director Don Fehr released the following statement:
"The NHLPA has agreed to the addition of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS) to our ongoing negotiations. We look forward to their involvement as we continue working to reach an equitable agreement for both the players and the owners."
The FMCS was also used in the labor disputes in both the National Basketball Association and National Football League last year.
The mediation services provided by the FMCS are non-binding.
The NHL and NHLPA have been without a CBA since Sept. 16. Regular-season games through Dec. 14, as well as the Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic and All-Star Weekend have been cancelled.
Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter: @drosennhl