The NHL/NHLPA have agreed to formal mediation via the good offices of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service. The director of this federal agency, George Cohen earned his bones working for the players in baseball, basketball and hockey. He has appointed Scott Beckinbaugh and John Sweeny to serve as mediators.
As an occasional court appointed mediator I can share some first hand insight of the process. Mostly as a mediator your first task is to earn control of the process. Generally parties in a dispute seek outside help because a neutral party can keep the process on track. Mediation is voluntary, not mandatory.
The first service a mediator provides is to keep the principals engaged in the process. The real art of managing a mediation is to bring the parties to self-discovery of the resolution. This is light years different from a lawsuit or an arbitration where a court or arbitrator makes a judgment and issues an order that will be enforced at gunpoint if necessary.
A successful mediation doesn’t always result in an agreement. Oftentimes success is just clarification of the issues.
Formal mediation is an 11th hour attempt at salvaging an asterisk filled semi-season and playoff. They must play at least a 41 game season or the NHL forfeits 100% of its sponsorship money. Given the calendar, we should know in about 3 weeks if the 2012-13 NHL hockey season will be played.
One time during a game, I saw an opportunity for a play developing in the neutral zone during a change on the fly. I had the puck but it was time to get off the ice. Skating straight for the bench with two opposition forwards attempting to trap me I executed a reverse spin and shoveled a backhander onto the stick of a fast breaking teammate. By the time Sean got to the opposition net and scored, I was chugging Gatorade. No assist for the stat page but jeez we laughed that one up.
That’s what successful mediators do. They make the play possible.