In the midst of a grueling lockout and with a season on life-support, negotiators from the NHL and the players association met with a team of famous mediums, hoping to find common some ground in the spirit world.
Best-selling authors, television personalities and psychics John Edward, James Van Praag and "Long Island Medium" Theresa Caputo heard arguments from both sides in a spooky house supposedly built on an Indian burial ground in suburban New Jersey on Wednesday. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA executive director Don Fehr were also on hand, but did not witness any ghosts or spirit activity during the meeting.
Negotiations took a turn for the worst last week when, after several days of direct talks between owners and players, a bizarre series of heated press conferences made it clear that there are still philosophical differences between the sides. Despite closing the gap on its proposed "make whole" payments to players this season, the league said Friday that it had pulled its offer from the table.
The mediums were expected to contact the now-dead offer and divine sage life advice from its residual energy.
Hainsey: "Hearing an 'M' and Something about Food"
"We think the mediums have been very beneficial to the bargaining process," said Winnipeg Jets defenseman Ron Hainsey, who has participated in every players meeting since the lockout began. "John Edward in particular came in with great information. He asked if anyone was connected to an 'M' name, like Mike or Mary or Mark or Marty. He said he was hearing an 'M' and something about food. Too much food, not enough food, something about food.
"Turns out Campy (defenseman Chris Campoli) had an aunt named Martha who was anorexic and who was eaten by sharks while snorkeling in Australia in 1982. John said that Campy's aunt Martha wanted to tell him that everything was going to be alright and that, 'the cash is in grandma's recipe box,' which we took as a sign that we're close on the money issues with the owners."
The mediums were able to make spirit connections for three of the 11 players that took part in Wednesday's meeting, Ducks forward Daniel Winnik was given a message from a great-great-great-uncle, Canadiens winger Mathieu Darche heard from a dead cat he had when he was a kid and Islanders forward Brad Boyes learned that his guardian angel is deceased former U.S. vice president Levi P. Morton.
Daly: Don't Expect Spirit World to Help
The players pushed to introduce the mediums to the process but NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly acknowledged that he held no expectations about using the spirit world to solve the league's third work stoppage in the last 18 years.
"It was a request by the players," Daly said. "Personally, I think it's a bunch of hooey. This location is not a hill that anyone has died on."
Despite the presence of those with the ability to talk to the dead, Wednesday's meetings apparently yielded no progress. Sides are still at odds over contracting issues, make whole payments, pension plans, the effectiveness of ouija boards, the existence of a vengeful spirit named "Bloody Mary" and whether or not Satan worshipers are really into that stuff or just weird people with no friends.
Neither side would say when the next bargaining meeting was scheduled or if the mediums would be called in again. The mediums said they already knew when they would be needed again.
Both the league and the players did agree, however, that they would not call in the Ghost Hunters because that show is a bunch of bullshit.
This is a parody. Wait. Did you hear that? What was that? Over there!