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Mediator’s effort got sides to reach deal

– The player who joins the storied list of NHL MVPs in the upcoming shortened season owes at least a share of it to federal mediator Scot Beckenbaugh.

Beckenbaugh orchestrated a frenetic final 48 hours of negotiations that eventually produced a tentative deal between the league and the players early Sunday morning that will end the four-month lockout and save the season.

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

The mediator’s constant three-block walks over 13 hours Friday between the NHL office and the hotel in which union representatives were staying laid the groundwork, calmed the anger and built the trust.

“Scot was great for a number of reasons,” said Winnipeg Jets defenseman Ron Hainsey, a key member of the union’s negotiating team. “When it got to points you didn’t know what to do next, you could go to him and talk to him about it and there was a way to work your ideas through a third party who was really able to help the process.”

Beckenbaugh couldn’t bring the sides to a deal in late November, and he left the process agreeing that the sides were far apart.

But he returned last week. Beckenbaugh went back and forth Friday, talking to union officials and then with NHL executives. Both said progress was being made from afar.

It might have been hard to see and hard to believe, but the proof was clear when a tired and weary Bettman stood side-by-side with the equally exhausted Donald Fehr and announced a tentative deal was in place.

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