Sounds like there was some progress in New York as federal mediator Scot Beckenbaugh shuttled back and forth between the NHL and NHLPA for nearly 13 hours Friday. He'll be back at it Saturday morning. In the interim, how about some real hockey talk?
The World Junior Championships wrap up Saturday morning (Buffalo time) in Ufa, Russia, with the United States taking on defending champion Sweden in the gold medal game at 8 a.m. You can watch it live on NHL Network. The U.S. hasn't won the gold since its overtime win over Canada in Saskatoon in 2010 in a goal by current Washington Capitals defenseman John Carlson.
The bronze medal game is live on NHLN at 4 a.m. and is a matchup that many thought would be for the gold: Canada vs. Russia.
Sabres prospects have left their mark all over the tournament with captain Jake McCabe, the Wisconsin defenseman taken in the second round of the June draft, leading the United States team in its gold-medal quest. First-rounder Mikhail Grigorenko has been the star of the Russian team -- outplaying No. 1 overall pick and teammate Nail Yakupov -- and looks like he could be NHL-ready for Buffalo rather than going back to the Quebec League (if there's an NHL season, of course).
Things have been tough for the Russians at home, as stories in the national media swirled about too much partying by the players and Grigorenko once again dealt with accusations that he is really 20 years old and not 18. As the link indicates, those stories have been debunked more than once -- and Grigorenko told me in no uncertain terms last June in Pittsburgh those rumors were false.
In action Friday, Finland claimed seventh place with an 11-4 rout of Slovakia as Joel Armia had three goals and an assist. The Sabres' No. 1 pick in 2011 is currently tied for the tournament lead in scoring with 12 points (six goals, six assists).