Federal mediator Scot Beckenbaugh has brought the NHL and NHLPA face-to-face after spending much of the last 24 hours searching for common ground on remaining issues.
Scot Beckenbaugh, savior?
Might just be the case. The United States federal mediator assigned to the NHL lockout has spent the better part of the last 24 hours shuttling back and forth between the league offices and an NHLPA hotel suite in Manhattan.
It's like a curtain has been opened after a long dreary day, and suddenly the sun is shining its optimism all over hockey's living room. Or something like that. Nearly every report is optimistic, or in some cases downright giddy, this Saturday afternoon:
Well, if its a close as we're sensing it could be a very "good day" according to source.— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) January 5, 2013
Small group with NHL, PA and mediator -- who must think there is reason to meet face to face again.— Nick Cotsonika (@cotsonika) January 5, 2013
Definitely, a sense of excitement building about things with CBA deal— adater (@adater) January 5, 2013
Keep hearing/reading sense of energy/optimism around today's CBA talks in NYC. Agent: "teams are gearing up, feels like it will be a go."— Kevin Paul Dupont (@GlobeKPD) January 5, 2013
NHL deal edging closer. Hurdles left that will need some time, but you can plan on the season starting in 2 weeks. @sbjsbd— Chris Botta (@ChrisBottaNHL) January 5, 2013
... you get the point.
Of course, we've experience optimism before around these talks. The difference now is that the sides have been apparently making progress for the better part of the last week, and with a clear deadline rapidly approaching to save any portion of the 2012-13 NHL season, the urgency is there this time. But we've been burned before when getting hopeful, so it's probably in our best interest to err on the side of caution when it comes to our hopes.
Nevertheless, Beckenbaugh has done yeoman's work over the last two days in diffusing a time bomb that could have exploded on Thursday when tensions rose between the two sides. He shuttled between both sides and found common ground, only bringing them face-to-face when he felt the two parties were close enough.
That time has come, and it feels like a deal is on the horizon. Let's hope it doesn't all fall apart again.