Celtics

NHL labor talks gain traction after secret meeting

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NHL labor talks gain traction after secret meeting

The welcomed term traction has finally become a buzzword in the CBA negotiations between the NHL and the NHLPA this weekend. The second-in-commands for both the NHLPA, lead counsel Steve Fehr, and the NHL, Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly, met at an undisclosed location on Saturday into the wee hours of Sunday, and both sounded hopeful tones after the meeting was over.

That it happened just 24 hours after the league cancelled the Winter Classic was a curious case of timing.

The long face-to-face exchange of ideas should lead to more bargaining sessions, and could be the first step toward a new deal that could save the season. Daly sounded optimistic on Sunday morning, but in true secretive fashion neither side was willing to share much of what was discussed during the long Saturday night meeting.

We had a series of meetings over the course of the day and had a good, frank discussion on the most important issues separating us, said Daly after it was over.

Fehr echoed Dalys sentiments on Sunday morning, but there was a sign much more encouraging than the curt statements from both high-level execs. The fact that none of their discussions have leaked into the media shows two sides that are looking to make a deal rather than win the next round in a prolonged PR battle.

"I agree with what Bill said," said Fehr in a separate statement. "Hopefully we can continue the dialogue, expand the group, and make steady progress."

While both sides have already essentially agreed that Hockey Related Revenue will drop to a 5050 split between the league and the players, the rapidity of reaching the even split is still believed to be a sticking point. But perhaps the biggest subject of discussion between the two sides is the make whole provision offered by the NHL in their last proposal.

The make whole agreement would guarantee that players will receive all of the money owed to them in contracts signed prior to the CBA expiration, but the original offer essentially boiled down to players-paying-players in deferred installments over time. Its believed the two sides are now discussing NHL ownership funding a portion of the make whole provision, and both sides perhaps agreeing to an escrow cap that will limit the money taken from players.

Its the kind of topic that only an economics major would dream about discussing, but it also might be the key to new CBA getting hammered out in the next few weeks. Right now its just a nice beginning to the process, but an agreement in the coming weeks could pave the way for a shortened 64-game season along with a full complement of Stanley Cup playoffs.
The NHL and the players will look to make more positive steps next week, and hopefully expand the process toward an agreement.

WATCH: Boston Celtics vs. Orlando Magic

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WATCH: Boston Celtics vs. Orlando Magic

Tune into NBC Sports Boston to watch the Celtics host the 76ers at TD Garden. You can also click here to watch the Celtics livestream presented by Nissan on the NBC Sports App. Coverage begins at 12:30 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live Presented by ACE Ticket.

- Game preview:  Celtics need to improve shooting

- Channel Finder: Make sure you know where to watch

[SHOP: Gear up, Celtics fans!]

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Bruins put finishing touches on reeling Canadiens

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Bruins put finishing touches on reeling Canadiens

MONTREAL -- The Boston Bruins weren’t about to dance on any Montreal Canadiens’ graves after it was over and done with, but they effectively closed the door on any flickering playoff hopes for the Habs this week. It all ended with Saturday night’s 4-1 win over the Canadiens at the Bell Centre that finished off the sweep of all three meetings between the two arch-rivals over an eight day span, and with the reeling Montreal a stunning 13 points out of a playoff spot in the Atlantic Division.

It was a close game nearly all the way through in Montreal until David Pastrnak and Riley Nash scored in the final few minutes of the third period, but the Bruins outscored the Habs by an 11-5 margin while clearly establishing they were the better team in all three contests. It all makes sense given the opposite directions that the two hockey clubs are headed at this point in the season, and because of that the Bruins were playing it pretty cool after burying the Habs.

“It was kind of a crazy week because we were playing them three times, so we obviously wanted to play good hockey,” said Tuukka Rask, who won all three games vs. the Habs while improving his lifetime record vs. the Habs to 10-15-3 in the process. “[We wanted to] get as many points as possible, and won all of those games along with the one on Long Island. So it was a great week for us.”

Certainly it seemed like there was more genuine emotion from the Bruins in Claude Julien’s return to Boston midweek, and perhaps a little more adrenaline in last weekend’s first game at the Bell Centre where rookies like Jake DeBrusk, Charlie McAvoy and Danton Heinen were dipping their toes into the storied rivalry for the first time.

But on this Saturday night it was more about a complete dismantling of the Bleu, Blanc and Rouge even as the Bruins initially fell down by a goal after a bad McAvoy turnover. Instead it was Boston’s Perfection Line that went to work with an efficient, dominant performance as David Pastrnak scored the game’s first goal and insurance third goal in the third period. They also accounted for the game-winner when Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak hemmed Montreal’s fourth line in the defensive zone, and Torey Krug eventually stepped up and rifled one short side on Carey Price.

Marchand, Bergeron and Pastrnak combined for two goals, six assists and a plus-8 in the resounding victory over the Habs, and had a dominant 12 of Boston’s 31 shots on net when the final horn had sounded. They simply overwhelmed Montreal with their depth, the high end quality of their lineup and the fact that Boston was rested while the Habs had to play in Washington DC on Friday night in a three games in four days stretch.

All of that allowed the Bruins to drive the final nail into Montreal’s coffin when the game was over, and it furthermore allowed Boston to keep worrying about the teams they’re trying to catch (ahem . . . Tampa Bay Lightning) rather than Eastern Conference bottom-feeders like the Canadiens.

“We talked about doing the job against them and finding a ways to push teams down while gaining ground on the teams above us,” said Patrice Bergeron. “I thought it was a great effort again. We knew that they would be ready for us, but we also knew that they had played last night. So maybe if we had a good start we could jump on them. I thought we had a good game.”

Clearly there have been ebbs and flows to the Bruins/Habs rivalry over their long history together, and both Boston and Montreal have been in the catbird seat at different times even in the recent editions of their history. But right now Boston is beating the Canadiens badly at their own skill and speed game and dominating thing with pure hockey rather than bullying, and that’s got to sting for a Habs group that simply couldn’t compete with the Bruins in three different chances to do so this week. 

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