Patriots

NHL, NHLPA continue to talk, need to get more serious

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NHL, NHLPA continue to talk, need to get more serious

Its high time that somebody makes a move.

The NHL and NHLPA have piled up the rhetoric and even made some egregious errors along the way. Florida Panthers forward Kris Versteeg can attest to after his embarrassingly inappropriate comments on Monday afternoon painting Gary Bettman and Bill Daly as league cancers that need to be cut out of the NHL. Theres simply no place for that kind of epic stupidity and ignorance in whats essentially a stone, cold business negotiation.

It's time to leave the schoolyard trash-talking crap behind, and make sure every move is one calculated toward forming an agreement with the NHL.

Its well established both sides think theyre in the right, and could prove how stubborn they are if it was merely all about digging their heels in to prove they were correct. But its not about that and its never been about that. Instead its always been about constructing an agreement that both sides can live with while making certain there is a 2012-13 NHL regular season.

With that in mind both sides put all the noise aside and met once again at the NHL offices on Monday evening. There were 18 players along with the Fehr brothers representing the NHLPA. A series of NHL owners led by Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs along with CBA negotiations newcomer Brian Burke filled out the league roster. Of course Gary Bettman and Bill Daly were on hand as well after a rough public relations week for them. The NHLs proposed two-week moratorium could have only been worse if Guy Fieri came up with the idea, and to make matters worse -- the full support of NHL ownership was brought into question in a story out of Philly that Flyers owner Ed Snider was souring on the lockout process.

With all of that new blood involved there was hope for some much-needed progress, and perhaps there will still be some in the following days. But on Monday the NHLPA had no formalized offer to hand over to the league, and instead the two sides spent over 90 minutes talking about concepts and ideas. The NHL wouldnt allow any discussion of player contract rights without an entire offer to pore through, and that didnt happen on Monday.

So with that in mind it appears the time has come to finally get serious about the season, and by connection get serious about an actual, real-life negotiation.

To this point both the NHL and the NHLPA have been more worried about revealing their respective poker hands than any actual concern about losing the entire regular season.

But the time for fun and games is over.

The players need to put their heads together and give the NHL something to chew on that can build a framework for deeper discussion leading to a finished document. That means agreement on a move to a 5050 split of revenue and a happy medium for the make whole provision that both sides can make peace with.

Most of the NHL players understand there is still going to be some level of escrow in the next CBA, but theyre looking to get the best deal possible. That means giving in on some portions of the even revenue split to get the NHL to bend on some of the player contract rights. The players should be willing to accept 6-7 year contract term limits and an elimination of the back-diving contracts, and its difficult to see exactly what they dont like about two-year entry level contracts.

By the same token the NHL should be willing to revert back to the 27 years oldseven years of service guidelines for unrestricted free agency that is understandably important to the players. One area that some players also said was a non-starter: including minor league contracts on the NHL salary cap that would force all AHL players into uniformly cheap deals. Thats an area that doesnt make sense to most NHL teams from a salary cap standpoint, and has rubbed many players the wrong way by squeezing the hard-working, honest players at the AHL level.

Those deals arent going to break the bank either way, and shouldnt be something that the season is lost over.  

Its the kind of compromise that should be happening if the two sides are negotiating, but the trust hasnt been there for a long enough durations of time through 65 days of the lockout. So now the ball is in the NHLPAs court. Theyve vowed all along how willing they were to continue negotiations and to keep talking through their differences, and thats allowed them to enjoy the upper hand in public opinion.

Now the NHLPA has been given a chance to put forth a proposal that could move both sides closer to a deal, and perhaps keep things on course for a Dec. 1 start to a shortened regular season. Indications were that the NHLPA was going to take until Wednesday to put together an offer they would present to NHL officials in New York City, and thats a good sign for everybody.

It would indicate Donald Fehr and the players are earnest in their desire to present something the league will move on.

But it will be an even better sign if both the NHL and NHLPA feel theres more to talk about after reconvening on TuesdayWednesday, and keep grinding toward a deal that should be eminently reachable.

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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