Don’t get too excited about the fact that  the NHL and the players association has agreed to federal mediation in an attempt to come to CBA agreement.   The process might be helpful but only if there is a will to make a deal.  Mediators have no decision making power.  Their main role is to promote dialog and make suggestions.  Unlike arbitration, nothing coming out of mediation is binding on either party.

The two sides went to mediation during the late stages of the last  lockout.  It was during those sessions that the players finally accepted the idea of a salary cap but that was all.  After three sessions,  Gary Bettman canceled the season.

Meanwhile the “decertification option” hangs over the process.  It’s been called the ‘nuclear option’ for  good reason.  The NHLPA would not only blow up itself but also the entire financial structure of the league.

Simply put, without a union there would be no entry level contracts or restricted free agency.   The entry draft would be eliminated, salary caps and every restraint the league has over it’s players through it’s labour agreement would be gone.  It’s a last resort risky business for the players because the process can take months.  The players probably wouldn’t vote for it unless the league cancels the rest of the season as they did in 2005.  There are those, myself included, who think the two sides are never going to get things right and we’re doomed to repeat the lockout/strike cycle every five years or so.  A free market league without a CBA has it’s attractions.

Which brings us to P.K. Subban.   Subban is an unsigned restricted free agent.   The Canadiens hold all the cards under the old CBA.  In a new CBA, if there is one,  they’ll probably still have final say on where Subban plays simply because they can match any offer that might come his way.  Blowing up the NHLPA would free Subban from any hold the Canadiens might  have him.  Other teams in the league would certainly offer Subban more money than the Canadiens under the restricted conditions which included loss of draft picks.

………All seven of the locked out Canadiens were idle Monday.  David Desharnais, Raphael Diaz and Yannick Weber will see Swiss League action Tuesday along with Lars Eller in Finland’s SM-Liiga.  Emelin and maybe Markov on Wednesday and Plekanec on Thursday.

………And that led me to wondering about the uniform numbers Canadiens took with their European teams.     How many kept, or tried to keep their Montreal number with their new team.? We have eight players employed elsewhere during the lockout.  Yannick Weber kept number 68 with Geneva in the Swiss League.  Same thing with David Desharnais’ 51 at Freibourg.   Lars Eller is number 81 with his Finnish team.   In Kladno, Tomas Plekanec was forced to reverse his 14 to 41 because Michal Lukac, an eight year team veteran had his Canadiens number.  Andrei Markov’s 79 was already taken by Chekhov team captain Alexei Troshchinsky so he took 27.   Alexei Emelin is interesting.  For six seasons he wore number 74 with Ak-Bars  Kazan and when he joined the Canadiens last year he kept it.  Now he’s back in Kazan and for some reason he has taken 86 despite the availability of his old number.

And, as usual Scott Gomez manages to complicate the issue.   He’s taken number 23 with the Alaska Aces because Habs number 11 was gone.  Gomez has had a sentimental attachment to 23.  That was his number in New Jersey.   When the Rangers signed him to that seven year contract they simultaneously signed free agent Chris Drury who also wore 23.   They flipped for it and Drury won. Gomez became 19 with the Rangers.  He couldn’t go back to 23 with the Canadiens because it belonged to Bob Gainey and 19 was Larry Robinson’s.   So he reversed 19 to 91 his first year with Montreal.

Yeah, I know.  But what else is there to write about on day 72 of the lockout.

And so it goes.