Blue Notes

Steve Zipay takes you inside the locker room, home and on the road, with the New York Rangers, and also writes about the NHL, off and on the ice.

Lockout musings: Weekend pressure points and beyond

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, right, and deputy commissioner

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, right, and deputy commissioner Bill Daly speak to reporters in New York. (Dec. 6, 2012) (Credit: AP )

I believe it was Plato who said that a beard doesn't make one a philosopher, but I'll toss some musings out anyway: 

All the hockey writers spread out around New York City  today have been tweeting that the federal mediator, Scot Beckenbaugh, has been meeting separately with the two sides, and that no full negotiating session has yet been scheduled.

BUT, how do we know there won't be small group meetings? There were two yesterday and no large-group, face-to-face talks that included Messers Fehr and Bettman.  And small group meetings---unless the Big Two are included---can't resolve this.  How about Bettman vs Fehr in a room without the posses? OK, the Big Four.  That's the real end game, no?

***

Now let's talk timeline. Judging by the calendar, a deal has to be reached by next Thursday in order for training camps to begin and have a 48-game season on the 19th or 20th.

Here's a thought: Next pressure drop not today, but tomorrow at 6 p.m., when the results of the 2nd disclaimer vote by the players will be concluded. Doesn't mean that's the deadline for the disclaimer to be executed, but it's a weapon.

Next pressure point after that? Monday 9:30. Federal Court in lower Manhattan. Status conference to set the timetable for NHL lawsuit to declare lockout legal.  So Sunday could see some serious movement.

And of course, there's this scenario:  PA sets Jan. 11 deadline for disclaimer. Threatens to file on that day unless there's a deal. NHL could bargain that day, cancel season, or keep talking on the 12th.  In 1994, 48-game reg season ended May 3rd.  Reasonable to have a May 5 end this time around?  Playoffs still could end in late June and then, there's already talk about pushing back July 1 free agency anyway.

***

Games? Reminder: US-Sweden for gold at the WJC.  8 a.m. tomorrow on NHL Network.

More later, or when there's news....

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