The NHL and NHL Players Association invited in mediators to try and end the labor impasse over a collective bargaining agreement.
After two days, according to NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly, the mediators gave up and left.
"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," Daly said in a statement Thursday. "We are disappointed that the mediation process was not successful."
The league and union agreed to have representatives from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS) attend meetings to offer advice on how to end the CBA stalemate and the lockout that began Sept. 16. The NHL has canceled all regular-season games through Dec. 14 and a decision on canceling the 2012-2013 season could be fast approaching.
Daly said the NHL now has another suggestion: let the NHL owners and players meet to talk over the issues. The NHLPA has not responded to that request.
NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr, unlike Daly, said the mediators' work may not be done.
"The mediators informed the parties that they did not think it was productive to continue the discussions further (Thursday)," Fehr said in a statement. "The mediators indicated that they would stay in contact with the league and the NHLPA, and would call the parties back together when they thought the time was right.”
The NHLPA may soon decide that the time is right for decertification of the union. That would allow NHL players to pursue antitrust suits against the NHL.