Cubs

Blackhawks aren't discouraged by negative negotiations

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Blackhawks aren't discouraged by negative negotiations

As the weekend begins, this much is known: the NHL and NHLPAs talks Thursday ended in acrimonious fashion, and there will be no hockey through Nov. 1.

Even with all that, players remain optimistic a deal can be done.

The league canceled another round of games on Friday, this time through Nov. 1. Yes, it was another round of tough news, but hardly unexpected. There was no way there would have been a new collective bargaining agreement in place soon enough to play games Oct. 25 through the first of November. The league stopped short of that Nov. 2 date they were hoping, at least as of earlier this week, would be the start of a salvaged 82-game season.

And while there will be no hockey through the rest of October, players hope talks will resume soon.

As players, were trying to stay positive and not overreact to the lack of progress yesterday, Jonathan Toews said after practice on Friday. Were still confident the proposals we came up with were very positive and effective for both sides. Well go with that and see what happens next week. As long as were talking, somethings going to happen.

The league proposed its 50-50 deal on Tuesday; and on Thursday the players association responded with three proposals of their own all of which got to 50-50 at some point during the proposal term. NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr said the groups third option began immediately at 50-50, as long as owners honored players existing contracts. NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly later disputed the NHLPAs claims on its third proposal, saying it was most likely a 56- to 57-percent deal, not 50-50.

Talks stalled quickly, and the dour tones of both commissioner Gary Bettman and Fehr snuffed out any developed optimism.

Its to be expected. Its not going to be one of those things where, after an offer, were going to lay down or after our proposal theyre going to lay down, Patrick Kane said. But you still have to look at the positive. Somethings out there; somethings being worked on to be negotiated. You cant get too up and down in this process.

Kane was just about set to sign with a European team earlier this week, changing his mind when it looked like talks could lead to something. Kane is still planning on playing in the Champs for Charity game, which former Blackhawks teammate Adam Burish helped organize, on Oct. 26. After that game, and depending on whats happening between the league and NHLPA, Kane may revisit his European options.

So the players will practice on while the league and NHLPA brass, hopefully, keep trying to work something out. Being ready, especially physically, wont be an issue for most of the players; theyve been skating on a regular basis here.

It all comes down to when things are worked out off the ice.

We know (Thursday) wasnt the best day, said Toews, who was in those meetings in Toronto. It doesnt mean we dont keep moving forward and keep working toward trying to get where we want to go.

Why did Kris Bryant get a first-place vote in this year's National League MVP balloting?

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USA TODAY

Why did Kris Bryant get a first-place vote in this year's National League MVP balloting?

Kris Bryant was the 2016 National League MVP. And despite having what could be considered an even better campaign this past season, he finished seventh in voting for the 2017 edition of the award.

The NL MVP was awarded to Miami Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton on Thursday night, a fine choice, though it was nearly impossible to make a poor choice, that's how many fantastic players there were hitting the baseball in the NL this season.

After Stanton, Cinicinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto finished second, earning the same amount of first-place votes and losing out to Stanton by just one point. Then came Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, Colorado Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado, Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon and Washington Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon ahead of Bryant.

But there was someone who thought Bryant deserved to repeat as the NL MVP. Yes, Bryant earned a first-place vote — as did everyone else mentioned besides Rendon, for that matter — causing a bit of a social-media stir considering the Cubs third baseman, despite his great season, perhaps wasn't as standout a candidate as some of the other guys who finished higher in the voting.

So the person who cast that first-place vote for Bryant, MLB.com's Mark Bowman, wrote up why he felt Bryant deserved to hoist the Kenesaw Mountain Landis Memorial Baseball Award for the second straight year.

"In the end, I chose Bryant because I believe he made the greatest impact, as his second-half production fueled the successful turnaround the Cubs experienced after the All-Star break," Bowman wrote.

"Though I don't believe the MVP must come from a playoff contender, in an attempt to differentiate the value provided by each of these three players (Bryant, Votto and Stanton), I chose to reward the impact made by Bryant, who produced the NL's fourth-best OPS (.968) after the All-Star break, when the Cubs distanced themselves from a sub-.500 record and produced an NL-best 49 wins."

It's easy for Cubs fans and observers to follow that logic, as the Cubs took off after the All-Star break following a disappointing first half. As good as Bryant was all season long, his second-half numbers, as Bowman pointed out, were especially great. He hit .325 with a .421 on-base percentage and a .548 slugging percentage over his final 69 games of the regular season, hitting 11 home runs, knocking out 21 doubles and driving in 35 runs during that span.

Perhaps the craziest thing about this year's MVP race and Bryant's place in it is that Bryant was just as good if not better than he was in 2016, when he was almost unanimously named the NL MVP. After slashing .292/.385/.554 with 39 homers, 102 RBIs, 35 doubles, 75 walks and 154 strikeouts in 2016, Bryant slashed .295/.409/.537 with 29 homers, 73 RBIs, 38 doubles, 95 walks and 128 strikeouts in 2017.

Of course, the competition was much steeper this time around. But Bryant was given the MVP award in 2016 playing for a 103-win Cubs team that was bursting with offensive firepower, getting great seasons from Anthony Rizzo (who finished third in 2016 NL MVP voting), as well as Dexter Fowler and Ben Zobrist. While the Cubs actually scored more runs this season and undoubtedly turned it on after the All-Star break on a team-wide basis, Bryant was far and away the best hitter on the team in 2017, with many other guys throughout the lineup having notably down years and/or experiencing down stretches throughout the season. Hence, making Bryant more, say it with me, valuable.

So Bowman's argument about Bryant's impact on the Cubs — a team that still scored 822 runs, won 92 games and advanced to the National League Championship Series — is a decently convincing one.

Check out Bowman's full explanation, which dives into some of Bryant's advanced stats.

HandiKapping presented by Xpressbet

HandiKapping presented by Xpressbet

In the latest edition of HandiKapping presented by Xpressbet, NBC Sports Chicago's David Kaplan makes his picks for the weekend.

Kap made his picks with the help of Eddie Olczyk this week.