Patriots

'No progress' in NHL meetings; no further talks with mediators planned

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'No progress' in NHL meetings; no further talks with mediators planned

The NHL and NHLPA concluded two days with federal mediators on Thursday, with no progress was made on any front.

There are no immediate plans for either side to meet with the mediators again, and no further bargaining meetings have been scheduled between the players and the league. The NHL and NHLPA can go back through the mediation route if they come closer to a new Collective Bargaining Agreement in the next four to six weeks, but -- as with this go-round -- there are no guarantees.

"Today, we concluded two days of mediation with FMCS mediators and representatives of the NHL Players' Association," NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said in a statement.  "After spending several hours with both sides over two days, the presiding mediators concluded that the parties remained far apart, and that no progress toward a resolution could be made through further mediation at this point in time.  We are disappointed that the mediation process was not successful."

With no bargaining sessions on tap, the Dec. 5 NHL Board of Governors meeting becomes the next big date on the schedule of events. NHLPA Executive Director Donald Fehr also released a statement following the meeting with federal mediators, and said they may be utilized again down the line.

"Today, players and the NHLPA staff, along with representatives of the league, concluded a second day of mediation under the auspices of the FMCS," said Fehr. "This afternoon the mediators informed the parties that they did not think it was productive to continue the discussions further today. The mediators indicated that they would stay in contact with the league and the NHLPA, and would call the parties back together when they thought the time was right."

Perhaps there will be a number of NHL owners who will decide to press for an end to the lockout, which has cost both the league and the players millions of dollars. But, more likely, the next step will probably be a discussion of potential nuclear options for each side:

NHLPA union decertification chatter has been gaining in volume among the players over the last week, and it's a road the league could be legitimately afraid to walk down. While actual decertification could take up to two months, the NHLPA could file a disclaimer of interest, which basically means Fehr and the NHLPA no longer represent the players.

That action would be immediate, and would essentially accomplish the same goal as decertification. It would allow the players to file antitrust lawsuits, and seek potentially significant damages from the league for lost wages.

Similarly there have been rumblings the NHL owners are ready to pull the 211 million make whole offer from the table as more games get cancelled, and the Hockey Related Revenue sum continues to shrink due to the lockout.

But for now there is just silence as the lockout heads toward its fourth month.

Gostkowski named AFC Special Teams Player of the Week

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Gostkowski named AFC Special Teams Player of the Week

FOXBORO -- Stephen Gostkowski is almost 34 years old, but in Mexico City he provided a reminder that he's not slowing down in his 12th NFL season. 

After going four-for-four on field goals -- including a team-record 62-yarder, a 51-yarder and a 40-yarder -- and making all three of his extra points, Gostkowski was named AFC Special Teams Player of the Week for the sixth time in his career. 

During a press conference on Wednesday, Bill Belichick explained that someone in Gostkowski's situation probably isn't improving at this point in his career. But if he's maintaining a strong level of play, that's OK. 

"I don’t know how much real improvement you’re going to see from a player that’s been in the league 12 or 20 years in a case like Adam [Vinatieri] or somebody like that," Belichick said. "But, if the level they’re performing at is pretty good, if they can maintain that, then that’s certainly enough to help the team.

"Are there things that a player can do better? Yeah, sure, there always are technique things. I think Steve has really improved in some of his alternative kicks on kickoffs, as an example, instead of just kicking every ball as far as he can. He’s done a great job of that. I’d say it’s maintaining the timing and the overall leg speed and technique that makes kickers good at their job."

Bruins hope to keep cooking with a winning recipe

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Bruins hope to keep cooking with a winning recipe

The Bruins seemed to discover a winning formula on the West Coast. Now the challenge is to keep it going.

It took them more than a month of play in the regular season, but they finally won two games in a row. Anton Khudobin and the B's played strong defense and finally built leads against the Kings and Sharks, and they avoided the kind of soft goal or defensive mistake that has been at the heart of so many of their losses.

Clearly that kind of tight, defensive game is how they're going have to play until they get their full lineup back, and they need plenty of wins. They're currently stuck in 13th place in the Eastern Conference, three points out of a playoff spot.

"It's always nice to get a couple of wins, especially against tough teams," said David Krejci, who is scoreless but averaging almost 17 minutes of ice time  in the two games since returning from a back injury. "We knew we had some areas of our game that we had to improve, and we still do after the start to the game we had against San Jose. It's nice to get two in a row, and we're focusing on three in [New Jersey]. We're building toward something, and we're on the right track. It's a big game [against the Devils].

"Playing with a lead, playing good defensively and having a good, structured game with everybody buying in . . . when you have a young team and you're playing strong clubs like LA and San Jose, it really says a lot about what we're trying to do here when you can get the job done."

The good news is the Bruins are going to make it through the Thanksgiving marker within shouting distance of a playoff spot, but they're still just scratching the surface of what they need to do to stay relevant in the East. They're hoping that finally reeling off a couple of consecutive wins can start a run of good hockey at a time when they desperately need it.

"I think we've played as a five-man unit" said Kevan Miller. "Forwards are getting back to help the 'D', and defensemen are stepping up to help the forwards. When you play like that and everybody is on the same page, it makes it that much easier. I think everybody, whether you're coming from Providence or you're up here, has played the same systems, but it can be a little bit of a struggle to get everybody on the same page.

"We've done a pretty good job of that, but doing it for 60 minutes has been a bit of an issue. We're trying to work on that."

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