Good morning from New York City.
The NHL and NHLPA are scheduled for another day of mediation, to begin at 10:30 am ET. Yesterday's sessions lasted almost 13 hours. Mediator Scot Beckenbaugh made the short walk between the league offices and the player hotel several times on Friday.
Beckenbaugh is deputy director of the Federal Mediation & Conciliation Service. If you wish to do some reading about FMCS philosophy, there's a FAQ here
In last season's NFL lockout, the NFL and NFLPA had 17 straight days of mediation over February and March of 2011. Those talks failed, but mediators were involved again right before the settlement in July.
The more you read about how mediators actually do their work, the more you realize how careful everyone needs to be about measuring their success. He's not going to keep the process going if he sees no willingness to make a deal, which explains why previous attempts were such spectacular failures.
But, he's also not going to reveal to one side what the other is thinking. Notice the section in the FAQ about confidentiality. Beckenbaugh has to be very careful that he does not reveal what the NHL is thinking to the NHLPA and vice versa. So, when he's shaping the conversation, he can't do it in a way that's going to give away the opponent's strategy or thought process.
So, when he asks a question to someone, that person isn't 100 per cent certain if it's the opposition's idea or Beckenbaugh's. They'll guess, of course, but can't be sure. That's why it will be interesting to see when the league and the players do go face-to-face once again. Assuming Beckenbaugh stays involved, history indicates he will pull them together if he feels he sees enough common ground to try and close the deal.
But there is another potential storyline to come.
At 6 pm ET, the NHLPA's vote on another "Disclaimer of Interest" mandate is to close. It's expected this will pass by a massive margin. Don Fehr declined to exercise this option by 11:59 pm ET Wednesday night, and it's impossible to imagine the players failing to do it twice.
The questions are: will there be a deadline on this mandate, or will it be open-ended? If there is a deadline, will it coincide with Jan. 11, which Gary Bettman has said is the drop-dead date for the season?
Those are your stories for Saturday.
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