George Cohen

A look at NHL-NHLPA mediators…and the one that got removed because of his weird Twitter account


As reported earlier, the NHL and NHLPA have agreed to bring in federal mediators to help negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement.

So, who are the key figures?

Here’s a quick primer…

George H. Cohen, Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service Director

Cohen (pictured) was appointed to his FMCS post by President Barack Obama in 2009, and has since served as chief mediator for the NBA and NBPA during the 2011 work stoppage. He was also an early lead mediator during the 2011 NFL lockout.

Cohen is perhaps best known for representing the MLBPA before U.S. District Judge Sonia Sotomayor in 1995.

“He is the lawyer who argued before Judge Sotomayor the day she issued the injunction that ended the baseball strike,” said MLBPA Executive Director Michael Weiner.

As for his ties to hockey? Cohen formerly served on the NHLPA Advisory Board.

Scot L. Beckenbaugh, FMCS Deputy Director

Was cited for his work in helping the NFL and NFL Referees Association reach an eight-year labor agreement, the longest deal with game officials in league history. The deal was struck on Sept. 27, two days after the controversial Seattle-Green Bay finish on Monday Night Football.

Beckenbaugh was also acting director of the FMCS during the NHL’s last lockout.

John (Jack) Sweeney, Director of Mediation Services

Sweeney currently serves the FMCS in the Northeastern United States (New York, New Jersey, Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island.)

Guy Serota, Comedic Relief

Serota, who was involved in NHL-NHLPA negotiations during the 2004-05 lockout, was initially assigned to this current mediation…then came Monday’s bizarre Twitter fiasco.

Here are the lowlights, courtesy The Sporting News:

Serota caused some initial waves — a Twitter account appearing to belong to him (@GuySerota) made the rounds after the initial announcement. It was, for lack of a better term, weird, and filled with bizarre tweets at celebrities and vulgar jokes. Upon discovery, it was deleted almost immediately, then came back scrubbed of the bizarre tweets.

Serota, as is custom with this sort of thing, seemed to say he was hacked, which is almost certainly not true—the weird stuff had been up for months.

Shortly thereafter, Cohen issued a statement saying Serota had been removed from the mediation. (“Hand in your keyboard, Serota! You’re off the case!”)

“Within one hour after I issued a press release announcing that further negotiations between the NHL and NHLPA would be conducted under the auspices of the FMCS, it has been called to my attention that there are issues involving an allegedly hacked Twitter account associated with Commissioner Guy Serota, one of the mediators I assigned.

“Accordingly, in order to immediately dispel any cloud on the mediation process, and without regard to the merits of the allegations, I have determined to take immediate action, namely to remove Commissioner Serota from this assignment.”

ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun later asked Serota via email if his Twitter account had been hacked.

Serota replied yes.

Niemi blanks Pens, notches two assists in Stars debut

Antti Niemi, Sidney Crosby, Patric Hornqvist

DALLAS (AP) — Antti Niemi recorded his 33rd career shutout and assisted on two goals in his Dallas debut, as the Stars beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-0 on Thursday night in the season opener for both.

Ales Hemsky had a power-play goal and an assist.

Rookie Matthias Janmark scored on his first shot on his first shift in an NHL game to make it 1-0. The Stars acquired Niemi and Janmark in trades earlier this year.

Dallas scored on two of five power plays. Jamie Benn, the NHL’s leading scorer last season, had a power-play goal in the third period.

Niemi made 37 saves to improve his career record against the Penguins to 5-1-1. He withstood a flurry in the final minute after Pittsburgh pulled goalie Marc-Andre Fleury for an extra skater.

Fleury had 21 saves.

The Stars are 4-0-1 in their last five home games against Pittsburgh, and have won three in a row overall.

Janmark skated down the slot, took a pass from Hemsky and shot between Fleury’s legs at 1:39 of the first.

The Penguins dominated the latter half of the period, but couldn’t score. Niemi’s best stop was a reaching glove save of Rod Scuderi’s drive from the blue line with less than 3 minutes remaining. Pittsburgh outshot the Stars 10-4 in the first.

Hemsky scored at 5:42 of the second on Dallas’ first power play. His shot from the top of the right faceoff circle went in over Fleury’s right shoulder.

The Penguins again had an advantage in shots, 13-11. Pittsburgh had chances in close, but Niemi turned those away. Midway through the second, John Klingberg cleared away a loose puck from in front of the net.

Seven seconds into the Stars’ fourth power play of the third period, Jamie Benn tipped in Jason Spezza‘s shot from the right point.

NOTES: Dallas acquired Janmark as part of a March trade that sent Erik Cole to Detroit. The rookie had been playing in the Swedish Hockey League. . San Jose traded Niemi’s rights to the Stars in June for a seventh-round draft pick. Also making their Dallas debuts were LW Patrick Sharp and D Johnny Oduya, teammates with Chicago’s Stanley Cup champions last season. . In his first game for the Penguins, Phil Kessel played in his 447th straight game. . Pittsburgh was 0 for 3 on the power play.

Fabbri’s first spoils McDavid’s debut as Blues down Oilers

Robby Fabbri, Justin Schultz
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ST. LOUIS (AP) — Rookie Robby Fabbri scored the tiebreaking goal midway through the third period to help the St. Louis Blues beat Edmonton 3-1 Thursday night, spoiling Oilers rookie Connor McDavid‘s NHL debut.

Vladimir Tarasenko had the tying goal for the Blues near the midpoint of the second period, and Troy Brouwer added an empty-netter with 18 seconds remaining in the third. Brian Elliott finished with 23 saves.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored in the first period for Edmonton and Cam Talbot had 28 saves.

McDavid, the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft, took 22 shifts, played 18:07 and was on the ice for Brouwer’s goal. He had two shots on goal, and struggled on faceoffs – winning only three of 13.

Fabbri, a 19-year-old forward — and McDavid’s childhood friend — was also playing in his first NHL game. The Blues’ first-round pick in 2014 was one of three rookies in the St. Louis lineup, joining defensemen Colton Parayko and Joel Edmundson.

Nugent-Hopkins gave the Oilers a 1-0 lead late in the first period with a fluke power-play goal. He lost a face-off but when Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo tried to clear the puck it bounced off Alexander Steen and past Brian Elliott. Nugent-Hopkins was credited with the unassisted power-play goal with 2:38 remaining in the period.

Tarasenko tied it a 9:10 of the second after getting loose on a breakaway with a stretch pass from Alex Pietrangelo and beating Talbot through his legs.

Tarasenko, who signed an eight-year, $60 million extension in the offseason, was the last Blues player to score in his debut.

NOTES: McDavid and F Anton Slepyshev made their NHL debuts for the Oilers. … St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina dropped the ceremonial first puck. … The attendance was announced as standing room-only 19,327.