From Comcast SportsNetTORONTO (AP) -- NHL labor negotiations will resume Wednesday, with mediators rejoining the talks at an undisclosed location in an effort to save the hockey season.The Canadian Press on Tuesday reported the restart of bargaining between the league and union, citing unidentified people on both sides of the lockout.U.S. federal mediators Scot Beckenbaugh and John Sweeney are to return to the process. They took part in sessions Nov. 27 and 28 before deciding they couldn't help.The Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, based in Washington, also was involved during the lockout that canceled the 2004-05 NHL season, with Beckenbaugh attending sessions.As recently as last week, Commissioner Gary Bettman indicated he didn't think mediators would be able to help bridge the gap."We're not interested in mediation," he said Thursday. "We went through it a week and a half ago. It was of no value because of the position of the parties."Tuesday marked the 87th day of the lockout. Wednesday's session will be the first meeting since the sides blamed each other after talks broke off last week.Until then, they appeared to be making progress during three days in New York in which they exchanged proposals. Union executive director Donald Fehr maintains there are agreements on almost all the important issues.From the league's point of view, three main issues remain: the length of the collection bargaining agreement, rules governing term limits on contracts and the transition rules to help teams get under the salary cap.There are also secondary issues yet to be agreed on, including the continued participation of NHL players in the Olympics, the international calendar and drug-testing rules.In all, more than 40 percent of the regular season that was scheduled to begin Oct. 11 has been scratched.The NHL eliminated 16 more days from the regular-season schedule Monday, canceling games through Dec. 30 in addition to the New Year's Day Winter Classic and the All-Star Game, which were already wiped out.The latest cancellations generally were regarded as both bad news and good news.While losing another two weeks hurts the league and the players, the fact that the NHL did not take more games off the schedule sparked speculation owners are holding out hope of making a deal that could start the season in early January.Bettman has said the league would not want to play anything less than a 48-game season, which is what it had after 1994-95 lockout ended.
MESA, Ariz. — The first thing Kyle Schwarber told his new hitting coach?
"His first statement to me is, 'I don't suck.'"
The Cubs hired Chili Davis as the team's new hitting coach for myriad reasons. He's got a great track record from years working with the Boston Red Sox and Oakland Athletics, and that .274/.360/.451 slash line during an illustrious 19-year big league career certainly helps.
But Davis' main immediate task in his new gig will be to help several of the Cubs' key hitters prove Schwarber's assessment correct.
Schwarber had a much-publicized tough go of things in 2017. After he set the world on fire with his rookie campaign in 2015 and returned from what was supposed to be a season-ending knee injury in time to be one of the Cubs' World Series heroes in 2016, he hit just .211 last season, getting sent down to Triple-A Iowa for a stint in the middle of the season. Schwarber still hit 30 home runs, but his 2017 campaign was seen as a failure by a lot of people.
Enter Davis, who now counts Schwarber as one of his most important pupils.
"He's a worker," Davis said in an interview with NBC Sports Chicago. "Schwarbs, he knows he's a good player. His first statement to me is, 'I don't suck.' He said last year was just a fluke year. He said, 'I've never failed in my life.' And he said, 'I'm going to get back to the player that I was.'
"I think he may have — and this is my thought, he didn't say this to me — I think it may have been, he had a big World Series, hit some homers, and I think he tried to focus on being more of a home run type guy as opposed to being a good hitter.
"His focus has changed. I had nothing to do with that, he came in here with that focus that he wants to be a good hitter first and let whatever happens happen. And he's worked on that. The main thing with Kyle is going to be is just maintaining focus."
The physically transformed Schwarber mentioned last week that he's established a good relationship with Davis, in no small part because Schwarber can relate to what Davis went through when he was a player. And to hear Davis tell it, it sounds like he's describing Schwarber's first three years as a big leaguer to a T.
"Telling him my story was important because it was similar," Davis said. "I was a catcher, got to big league camp, and I was thrown in the outfield. And I hated the outfield. ... But I took on the challenge. I made the adjustment, I had a nice first year, then my second year I started spiraling. I started spiraling down, and I remember one of my coaches saying, 'I'm going to have to throw you a parachute just so you can land softly.' I got sent down to Triple-A at the All-Star break for 15 days.
"When I got sent down, I was disappointed, but I was also really happy. I needed to get away from the big league pressure and kind of find myself again. I went home and refocused myself and thought to myself, 'I'm going to come back as Chili.' Because I tried to change, something changed about me the second year.
"And when I did that, I came back the next year and someone tried to change me and I said, 'Pump the breaks a little bit, let me fail my way, and then I'll come to you if I'm failing.' And they understood that, and I had a nice year, a big year and my career took off.
"I'm telling him, 'Hey, let last year go. It happened, it's in the past. Keep working hard, maintain your focus, and you'll be fine.'"
Getting Schwarber right isn't Davis' only task, of course. Despite the Cubs being one of the highest-scoring teams in baseball last season, they had plenty of guys go through subpar seasons. Jason Heyward still has yet to find his offensive game since coming to Chicago as a high-priced free agent. Ben Zobrist was bothered by a wrist injury last season and put up the worst numbers of his career. Addison Russell had trouble staying healthy, as well, and saw his numbers dip from what they were during the World Series season in 2016.
So Davis has plenty of charges to work with. But he likes what he's seen so far.
"They work," Davis said. "They come here to work. I had a group of guys in Boston that were the same last year, and it makes my job easier. They want to get better, they come out every day, they show up, they want to work. They're excited, and I'm excited to be around them.
And what have the Cubs found out about Davis? Just about everyone answers that question the same way: He likes to talk.
"I'm not going to stop talking," he said. "If I stop talking, something's wrong."
On the latest Blackhawks Talk Podcast, Adam Burish and Pat Boyle discuss which Blackhawks could be on the trading block and what players are building blocks for the Hawks future.
Burish also shares a couple memorable trade deadline days and his “near” return to the Blackhawks in 2012. Plus, he makes his bold trade deadline prediction for the Hawks.
Listen to the full Blackhawks Talk Podcast right here: