On September 15, 2012, the NHL and the NHL Players’ Association (NHLPA) began a long, nasty collective bargaining dispute.  For most hockey fans, it really did seem like the end of the world.  However, after 119 days (not that we were counting), the NHL and NHLPA signed a memorandum of understanding reflecting the terms of a new, 10-year collective bargaining agreement.  A shortened regular-season began on Saturday, January 19th.

Scot BeckenbaughU.S. federal mediator, Scot Beckenbaugh, coordinated an intense final 48 hours of negotiations which produced a tentative agreement between the NHL and the NHLPA in the early morning hours of January 6th.  For approximately 13 hours, Beckenbaugh made dozens of walks over a three-block distance shuttling between the league’ s New York headquarters and the players’ Manhattan hotel.  His mediation skills during this time brought the sides back to the bargaining table for the marathon 16-hour negotiation session that finally ended the 2nd longest lockout in NHL history.

“I would be remiss if we didn’t thank Scot Beckenbaugh for his assistance in the mediation process,” said NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman.

Beckenbaugh was recognized as being the key to the NHL and NHLPA finding common ground.

“The mediator, in my opinion, was a crucial part of this process,” said NHLPA Executive Board Member Chris Campoli.  “Working endlessly through a number of difficult tactical strategies, he was able to help the parties find a common ground…Scot deserves a lot of credit for putting the great game back where it belongs, on the ice.”

Through social media, many NHL players acknowledged the significant role that the U.S. federal mediator played in ending the NHL lockout:

The new collective bargaining agreement had not even been ratified before hockey fans and insiders, including TSN broadcaster Chris Cuthbert, started talking about Beckenbaugh as an early favourite to win the NHL’s Hart Trophy, given to the league’s most valuable player:

Beckenbaugh modestly declined: “I’m as famous as I want to be.”

He may be too modest to accept the recognition, but Beckenbaugh deserves a big thank you from those who make a living from NHL hockey.  He also deserves a big thank you from the mediation community for raising the public’s awareness of the value of mediation.  Dinner is on us.

Today’s guest blogger is devoted hockey fan Rob Finlay, Manager of Mediate BC’s Family Mediation Services Program.  Rob became a certified mediator and licensed attorney in the State of Washington and then returned home to join Mediate BC.  He provides some insightful comments on the intersection of mediation and the recent NHL lockout!

Photo by Andy Hall on Unsplash