The last time the NHL turned toward federal mediation to help with a labor issue the entire season was canceled shortly thereafter. That was in the desperate final days of the previous lockout in early February 2005. When it became obvious that the NHL Players' Association still wasn't going for a salary cap the league gave up -- on mediation and that season.

So there is limited optimism that mediation this time around will help. The NHL and the NHLPA announced Monday they were willing to try again, so at least two federal mediators will be on hand when negotiations resume, as expected, on Wednesday.

But there are other factors at work here. The calendar hasn't yet flipped to December, so there is still plenty of time to save the season. And maybe another voice in the room will help the two sides find some common ground.

"I've always said I'd be open to it," NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told Toronto radio station The Fan 590 on Friday when asked about mediation. "I'm not sure it's the best way to move the process forward."

- Brian McNally