NHL, NHLPA once again getting close in talks


NHL, NHLPA once again getting close in talks

The NHL and NHLPA have patched things up and are continuing to push toward a new CBA with deadlines surrounding them.

After two days of separate meetings with federal mediator Scot Beckenbaugh, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and deputy commissioner Bill Daly made their way to the players New York City hotel on Saturday afternoon for the first face-to-face meeting since Thursday.

Beckenbaughs work on Friday and Saturday was crucial in getting the two parties close enough to get in the same room, and perhaps building some of the trust that had been frayed by a pair of misunderstandings this week.

Its been reported that progress has been made in the area of the pension plan and the second year salary cap number, and that both sides are showing encouraging amounts of movement toward a middle ground. Former NHL defenseman Bret Hedican even tweeted on Saturday afternoon that: Nothing official yet that I've heard, but several sources have said it's done. Let's hope this is Official!

But several players contacted by indicated that theyve heard no official word about the lockout being over, and were skeptical about any reports saying otherwise.

Those NHL players contacted by are in Ill Believe It When I See It mode after spending too much time on the CBA meat grinder over the last four months.

The assumption is that the NHL and NHLPA are working diligently for an agreement as the hours count down to the players association having another opportunity to file a disclaimer of interest motion at 6 p.m. The NHL is still on target for a Jan. 19 start to the regular season that would open up a 48-game shortened regular season featuring a compacted schedule against only conference foes.

A dose of reality: the NHL and NHLPA have been close to agreements on several occasions in the last month and have had talks disintegrate quickly over one snag or another. So cautious optimism is once again the phrase of the day.

Backes and Bergeron return to Bruins practice, may be back in action soon


Backes and Bergeron return to Bruins practice, may be back in action soon

BRIGHTON -- It was good news when word first filtered out that David Backes had resumed skating last weekend while the Bruins were on the West Coast, and even better news Tuesday when he returned to practice. Backes skated without any restrictions in a spot on the third line with Riley Nash and Tim Schaller, and appeared to be recovering nicely from his bout of diverticulitis.

Backes was initially diagnosed with the inflammatory colon ailment in the first few days of October, with the team estimating a three- to four-week recovery period. If he'd needed surgery rather than the  prescribed rest and medication, he could have been facing a lot more missed games.

Patrice Bergeron was also back skating on Tuesday morning while centering Brad Marchand and Anders Bjork, still sporting a maroon no-contact jersey while taking some light contact during the practice session.

Backes and Bergeron look like they’ could be returning to the lineup soon.

But the injury news wasn't all good, as Ryan Spooner, Austin Czarnik, Danton Heinen and Adam McQuaid were all missing from practice.

Spooner (lower body) and McQuaid (lower body) were both injured in Sunday night’s loss to the Vegas Golden Knights, and Czarnik and/or Heinen might be ticketed back to Providence soon if the Bruins have to make roster space for Bergeron and/or Backes ahead of Thursday night’s home game against the Vancouver Canucks.

Here are the line combos and D-pairings from Tuesday’s practice at Warrior Ice Arena with a whole different look to things with some of the different bodies taking part in the skate: