Patriots

Losses piling up for Fehr, NHLPA in losing battle from start

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Losses piling up for Fehr, NHLPA in losing battle from start

Steve Burton should have been right. He was right about Phil Kessel having testicular cancer. He was right about Tim Thomas skipping his final season to hunker down at NORAD in preparation for the Mayan apocalypse.

And he should have been right about the NHL lockout being over. Its too bad that Steve Burton didnt take into account the fact that Donald Fehr is still very much involved in this negotiation process.

Donald Fehr clearly doesnt realize hes no longer toying with Bumbling Uncle Bud Selig, a commissioner so inept he couldnt negotiate his way out of an All Star Game tie, let alone a labor impasse.

Fehr, a players executive who has lead his charges into work stoppages in six of the eight labor disputes hes been involved in, is now trying put his mutually assured destruction negotiation tactics into a labor dispute with a league that just eight years ago used a scorched earth bargaining strategy to bring the NHL Players Union to its knees.

The National Hockey League is a niche sport that has over expanded into areas that are clearly not capable or wiling to consistently support the game. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman is more than aware of this and has built support among the teams in those fringe markets that simply cannot afford to make a bad deal and are more than willing to sacrifice a season to get what they want.

Unlike wannabe tough guy NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, or the marginally competent Selig, Bettman wields real tangible power in these talks. All Bettman needs is the support of 8 teams to veto any proposed CBA agreement. It also means over three quarters of the league has to be in agreement to override Bettmans authority. And since the deal to sell the Phoenix Coyotes to Greg Jamison is still pending approval, NHL itself is the current owner of that team giving Bettman his own vote in any CBA matter. With the support of ownership hawks like Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs, that care nothing about the game itself and are more than willing to subsist on other revenue while they crush the players, and teams like Florida and Columbus, whoare more willing tomiss the season to make the deal they want, Bettman has all the power he needs.And as long as Bettman has the support of what amounts to a doomsday cult of hard line owners, the best the players can hope for is to get the best deal they can manage as quickly as possible.

Now before anyone accuses me of being for the owners or looking at this from a fans perspective let me make the following clear: I blame Bettman and the owners completely and totally for this. They were the ones who were more than willing to line their pockets with expansion fees as teams cropped up in places that only see ice in their cocktails. They were the ones who began this negotiating process with an offer so draconian and lopsided you knew they had no intention of ever playing a full season. The owners are the ones that locked the players out and are more than willing to put the entire sport of hockey at risk to line their coffers just a bit more.

And even with the deck clearly stacked against the players, after eighty plus days of seemingly fruitless back and forth Fehr had a chance to get the players making money again, with a 5050 split and the make whole provision. All they needed was a yes or no answer. The time to negotiate was over and someone as experienced as Fehr should have known this.

But Fehr countered, and as Fred Toucher on 98.5 the Sports Hubs Toucher and Rich Show said, he thought Donald Fehrs biggest failing was not being able to read the room during the negotiating process and he was exactly right. There was a deal to be made yesterday. Yes the players would have had to acquiesce to more of the owners demands, but an option for getting the people he represented working again was there for the taking. Not making that deal was risking a repeat of 2004 where the players ended up with a salary cap AND losing a year's salary AND getting their paychecks cut by 24. Fehr should have understood he was not going to win this negotiation when this process started. He needed to make the best deal he could while getting the players back to work to keep their actual losses this season to a minimum and that chance came and went yesterday.

Unfortunately, the owners will win any long protracted battle and by dragging this process out, all Donald Fehris doing is costing the players more and more money while he represents the only thing he really cares about: Donald Fehr.

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: 'Incomprehensible' to expect same greatness from Patriots?

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BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: 'Incomprehensible' to expect same greatness from Patriots?

0:43 - Tom Curran, Kayce Smith, and Michael Holley talk about Bill Belichick saying it’s “incomprehensible” that people expect the Patriots to be on the same level as last year at this point in the season.

11:55 - Tom Giles, Kayce Smith, and Michael Holley discuss J.R. Smith’s comments about the Celtics not being a threat to the Cavaliers.

15:38 - Abby Chin, Chris Mannix, and A. Sherrod Blakely join BST from Cleveland to talk about Marcus Smart and the Celtics failing to agree to a contract extension, making him a restricted free agent in July. They also preview Tuesday’s Celtics-Cavaliers season opener.

19:25 - Reports say Alex Cora is the frontrunner for the Red Sox managerial position, but Brad Ausmus interviewed for the position on Monday. Who is the right man for the job? Tom Giles and Michael Holley discuss.

Stevens knows hanging banners is ‘what it’s all about’ in Boston

Stevens knows hanging banners is ‘what it’s all about’ in Boston

BOSTON – When Brad Stevens took the Boston Celtics job in 2013, he knew what he was getting into.
 
Yes, the Celtics at that time were rebuilding which usually means years and years of slow but steady progress – if you’re lucky.
 
And then after maybe a few years of struggling to win games, a breakout season occurs and just like that – you’re back in the playoffs.

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 But here’s the thing with the Celtics.
 
While most rebuilding teams spend years working their way towards being competitive, Stevens hit the ground running and in just four years, he led the Celtics from being a 25-win team to one that was just three wins away from getting to the NBA Finals.
 
He has the kind of basketball resume that’s impressive on many levels.
 
But Stevens knows good isn’t good enough in this town.
 
“We’re here in Boston,” he said. “Winning is good, but hanging one of those (banners) up is what it’s all about. That’s what makes this such a special franchise.”
 
And for Stevens, a franchise where the expectations for success under his watch have never been greater than they are now.
 
Boston only returns one starter (Al Horford) from last year’s squad which advanced to the Eastern Conference finals after having won an East-best 53 games.
 
However, they added a pair of All-Stars in Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving to join Horford. In addition, they drafted Jayson Tatum with the third overall pick in last June’s NBA draft.
 
Boston also has a slimmed-down Marcus Smart (he lost 20 pounds from a year ago) as well Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier who will both benefit from having another NBA season under their belts.
 
And while it’s a small sample size and consists of just two teams (Philadelphia and Charlotte), the Celtics breezed their way through the preseason with a flawless 4-0 record which included at least one game in which they did not play their usual starters which shows how impactful their depth may be this season.
 
That success can only help, especially with a challenging schedule that includes seven of their first 11 games being on the road. 
 
Still, the potential of this Celtics team has never been greater than it is right now since Stevens took over in 2013.
 
And just like the increased expectations of the team, the same can be said for Stevens who is considered one of the better coaches in the NBA.
 
Marcus Morris will begin his first season with the Celtics, but had a lot of respect for Stevens well before he was traded to Boston from Detroit this summer.
 
“You hear a lot of good things about him from other players,” Morris told NBC Sports Boston. “And once you get in here and start working with him and seeing what he does every day, you see what they’re talking about. He’s a good coach, man.”
 
This team’s success will hinge on how the players perform, but there’s an added element of pressure on Stevens to find the right combinations that will position the Celtics for success.
 
“We have a lot more guys who can do a lot more things on the court, so it will be a little more challenging for us to figure out how to best play with each other, and for Brad to figure out which combinations are the best ones,” Boston’s Al Horford told NBC Sports Boston. “But we’ll figure it out. Brad’s a really good coach, a really smart coach. And on our team, we have a lot of players who are smart, high basketball I.Q. guys. We’ll be OK.”
 
Basketball smarts aside, the Celtics’ success will hinge heavily on how quickly they can bring a roster with 10 new players up to speed quickly.
 
It’s still early, but players like what they’ve seen from the collective body in terms of team chemistry.
 
“I think that’s the beauty of a lot of guys on the team,” said Gordon Hayward. “It’ll be different each night with some of the different roles we play.”
 
Which is why the Celtics, while lacking experience as a team because of so many new faces, are still seen as capable of winning because they have a number of players who can impact the game in many ways.
 
But as good as they are, it still comes back to Stevens doing a good job of putting them in the best positions to find success individually as well as for the Celtics team.
 
When you look at how time with Stevens jumpstarted Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder’s careers, or how it helped revitalize the career of Evan Turner, it’s obvious that he has the Midas touch when it comes to getting the most out of players.
 
For Boston to have the kind of success they believe they are due for, it’s going to take the contributions of many.
 
And even that might not be enough.
 
But having the path being bumpier than expected is something Stevens embraces.
 
“Here in this league,” he said. “You have to love challenges.”

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