Patriots

Sanderson: NHL, NHLPA on verge of seriously damaging the league

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Sanderson: NHL, NHLPA on verge of seriously damaging the league

BOSTON -- Derek Sanderson knows all about regrets in the NHL.

The flashy Bruins center won a pair of Stanley Cups in Boston while exploding into a celebrity off the ice known for his irreverence and frolicsome lifestyle. But the Bs bon vivant also became the worlds highest-paid athlete for a time when he eschewed the NHL for the WHAs Philadelphia Blazers and a 2.6 million contract in 1972.

Unfortunately, things didnt work out . . . as often happens when somebody is simply chasing the money.   

Sanderson missed his Bruins teammates terribly and injuries kept him off the ice for Philly. Ultimately the Blazers bought him out of his pricey contract after he'd appeared in only eight games for them. The flamboyant Bs legend still lists the decision to sign with the WHA as the biggest regret of his entire hockey career, so he knows a thing or two about learning from mistakes.

Thats why Sanderson is concerned that his NHL is on its way to a monumental gaffe if Gary Bettman and Donald Fehr cant find a proper CBA agreement that will guarantee a 2012-13 regular season. At this point it will be a shortened campaign, which could be 64-68 games if they start on Dec. 1, and Sanderson thinks the NHL could live through such a still-possible scenario.

But all bets are off if they miss the whole season, as they did in 2004-05.

I think hockey will survive despite it all, but it could be a long time coming back if they do not have hockey this year, said Sanderson, who has been giving interviews over the last two weeks to promote his new autobiography Crossing the Line: The Outrageous Stories of a Hockey Original that was released in October. There might be trouble if they dont bring it back to the people soon in Hi-Def on TV.

For most people, theyre not actively looking for hockey until football is over. Once the NFL season is over, people are going to be asking, Wheres the Bruins? If you dont get it by Christmas and you dont let kids watch the games, then youre going to hurt the game.

Of greater concern to Sanderson and undoubtedly to many past generations of players who worship the game of hockey and the NHL are the two executives at the heart of the CBA negotiations. The Turk openly wonders how high the level of concern is about the NHL when its a pair of negotiators from outside the hockey world controlling the fate of this season and beyond.

I think hockey is the greatest game in the world. You cant say too much about the lockout. But I dont understand it, said Sanderson. Gary Bettman is a basketball guy and Donald Fehr is a baseball guy, isnt he? Why are they talking about hockey?

The owners had a great CBA the last time if they did it properly. Just dont frontload the contracts and sign guys to contracts for 10 or 15 years. Dont make those deals. But they did it to themselves and now theyre looking for something else.

The sports references point to Bettman's start as David Stern's right-hand man in the NBA, and Fehr's 25 years of service heading the Major League Baseball Players Association before joining up with the NHLPA.

Sanderson no longer has a direct stake in the game as he did when he was a player for the Bruins, Canucks, Penguins, Blues and Rangers, or when he served as the Bruins color analyst for more than 10 years. He now helps athletes manage their money as vice-president of a Boston-based company called Baystate Wealth Management, and tries to teach them about the past financial mistakes in his own life that once left him penniless.  

Sanderson is also hoping his words might help the NHL avoid repeating the mistakes of the 2004-05 lockout, which they seem hell-bent on doing to the dismay of many.

Jags safety says Gronk hit was unavoidable

Jags safety says Gronk hit was unavoidable

FOXBORO -- During the tail end of the season, Rob Gronkowski was probably the league’s most unstoppable skill player. If any team was going to beat the Patriots, it needed to stop Gronk.

The Jaguars stopped Gronk on Sunday. They still didn’t win.

PATRIOTS 24, JAGUARS 20

The Patriots tight end was driven from the game by a helmet-to-helmet hit from Jaguars safety Barry Church. Gronk, running down the seam on a first-and-10 play with 1:28 left in the half, was hammered by Church, who really didn’t have a lot of options on the play. The throw was too up-for-grabs for Church to ignore the chance of picking it off. And by the time a pick was out of the question, the collision was inevitable.

“I just tried to dislodge the ball,” Church explained. “He’s a big dude and I was just trying to dislodge the ball but I gueess they felt it was too high of a hit. I hope he’s healthy. I know he didn’t come back so I hope he’s alright. It was a tough call but you have to go with what they call. It’s the toughest play in football.  If you go low for the knees you are considered a dirty player and if you go high, they throw the flag at you. It’s a bang-bang play and I was just trying to play football. I tried to lead with my shoulder.”

Gronk was slow to rise and when he did, he was unsteady. Teammate Chris Hogan kept Gronk steady until he got some assistance to the sideline. From there, we was squired to the locker room and into the concussion protocol. He didn’t return.

The hit, the flag and the fact the Patriots would soon score a touchdown to chew into the Jaguars lead caused the inevitable discussion of what Chruch was supposed to do on that play.

Church had the same debate himself.

“It’s tough, that guy s humongous,” said Church. “If you wait for him to catch it and bring it down, he might run you over. You have to go with it and try and hit him in the right target zone but, going 100 MPH, that is nearly impossible.”

Gronk wasn’t spotted in the locker room after the game. He’ll have checkpoints to pass before he’s cleared to play in Super Bowl 52. 

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First look at Tom Brady's injured thumb

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First look at Tom Brady's injured thumb

Apparently there was a miscommunication of sorts during Patriots practice this week.

Reports of gushing blood and Brady screaming in pain left many wondering what type of shape Tom Brady was in.

It turned out that he was just fine and ready to go, leading the Patriots to yet another comeback postseason victory.

But a first look at Brady's thumb was finally captured by an Associated Press photographer after tonight's game.

The collision occurred during a handoff and Brady needed 12 stiches, it also injured the collateral ligament in his thumb.

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