The NHL, the players' association and now even federal mediators agree on one thing: the bickering sides are nowhere near a deal that would put hockey back on the ice.
The league and the union wrapped up two days of talks Thursday in New Jersey, with help from mediators, but they moved no closer to a solution to save the hockey season.
Two members from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service joined the discussions Wednesday and Thursday but couldn't bring the sides any closer.
"After spending several hours with both sides over two days, the presiding mediators concluded that the parties remained far apart, and that no progress toward a resolution could be made through further mediation at this point in time," NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said in a statement. "We are disappointed that the mediation process was not successful."
Players' association executive director Donald Fehr echoed Daly's remarks Thursday night.
"This afternoon, the mediators informed the parties that they did not think it was productive to continue the discussions further today," Fehr said in a statement.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman offered the union a meeting that would consist of only owners and players. The union was considering the proposal and would get back to the league.
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