Washington, DC (Sports Network) - The National Hockey League and the NHLPlayers' Association met with federal mediators for the first time onWednesday in an attempt to spur negotiations towards a new CollectiveBargaining Agreement.

"A small group of NHLPA staff and players met today with two experienced FMCS(Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service) mediators. We expect that thesediscussions will resume on Thursday," said players' union executive directorDon Fehr after those meetings commenced.

The league also confirmed that meetings will continue, but declined to issue astatement.

Mediation by a third party was also sought out twice during the 2004-05lockout; once as a last-ditch effort to save the season in February of 2005,and once more during the following summer, with no positive outcome. The hopeis an objective party will help get the negotiating process on track.

The current work stoppage, which began on Sept. 16, has already caused thecancellation of 422 regular-season games as well as the Winter Classic andAll-Star Weekend.

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