White Sox

Bettman addresses Final, league-wide concerns

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Bettman addresses Final, league-wide concerns

The Kings took a 1-0 lead in the series against the Devils last night in New Jersey, continuing their flawless streak on the road and maintaining their record of never falling behind in a series throughout the Stanley Cup playoffs.

The last time the Kings made an appearance in the Final was back in 1993 when they were eliminated in Game 5 against the Montreal Canadiens. That season also marks the first year Gary Bettman began serving as NHL commissioner, so he understands and appreciates the excitement this series is bringing to the league.

But as they end of the postseason approaches, questions concerning the league's CBA situation arise. NBC Sports spoke with Bettman, asking what fans can anticipate as the league heads into the off-season.

"My hope is that we can get through this quickly, quietly, and painlessly," Bettman said. "I know there's been a lot of speculation and a lot of pessimism, but we haven't had any substantive conversations yet, so I'm not sure anyone should be rushing to conclusions yet.

"I think it's better for them to enjoy what's going to happen in the next few days and weeks here between the Kings and the Devils."

The NHL has cracked down on on-ice antics as well as gear protection, and although we've seen top players in the league suffer long-sustained injuries this season, it seems like there's light at the end of the tunnel.

"For the first time in three years, the number of concussions went down... and that's in the face of us being much more aggressive in diagnosing concussions and much more conservative in their treatment."

After seeing how Sidney Crosby, Chris Pronger, and even Jonathan Toews were affected by concussions, it's hard to believe that the issue is being resolved. But after seeing suspensions such as Raffi Torres' 25-game ban, it's apparent that the league is being stricter on reprimanding illegal play.

White Sox plug one rotation hole, acquire Ivan Nova in trade with Pirates

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USA TODAY

White Sox plug one rotation hole, acquire Ivan Nova in trade with Pirates

LAS VEGAS — The White Sox have crossed one item off their offseason to-do list.

The South Siders acquired starting pitcher Ivan Nova in a trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday, plugging one of the two holes in their starting rotation. In exchange, the White Sox sent pitching prospect Yordi Rosario and international signing bonus pool money.

The White Sox needed to add a pair of starting pitchers this winter, what with Michael Kopech slated to miss the entire 2019 season while recovering from Tommy John surgery and James Shields departed via free agency. Adding Nova accomplishes that goal, also adding a veteran presence to a young starting staff that only featured Carlos Rodon, Reynaldo Lopez and Lucas Giolito.

Nova has just one year of team control remaining on his current contract, meaning he will be a short-term solution, likely a one-year fill-in while the White Sox wait on Kopech’s recovery and Dylan Cease’s development in the minor leagues, rather than a long-term piece of the rebuilding White Sox future. But he could bring a ton of value as a clubhouse mentor, similar to the role that Shields played last season.

Nova, who turns 32 next month, hasn’t found a great deal of statistical success of late. After posting a 3.10 ERA with the New York Yankees in 2013, he owns a 4.44 ERA in the five seasons since with the Yankees and Pirates. In his three seasons in Pittsburgh, he posted a 3.99 ERA. But he has a greater value to the White Sox, not expected to contend for a playoff spot in 2019, as someone who can take the ball every fifth day, eat up innings and help out the young South Side bullpen. Nova logged 161 innings last season with the Pirates.

Certainly the White Sox are not done, still needing to fill another spot in the rotation, as well as to make additions in the bullpen, at catcher and in the outfield. And that’s all independent of their reported pursuits of mega free agents Bryce Harper and Manny Machado. But they’ve filled one need with this move.

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Power Rankings Roundup: Bears are back to knocking on the top-5

Power Rankings Roundup: Bears are back to knocking on the top-5

The Bears are getting nice and cozy at #6. The Giants debacle had Chicago in danger of dropping out of the top-10 with another loss, but low and behold, Sunday night. Now, the Bears are back in their rightful place, just outside the top tier of NFL teams. Here's what they're saying:

Ours: #6, up 1-
Mitch Trubisky will need to be better, but the NFC was put on notice on Sunday night. The Bears are legit. 

ESPN: #6, up 2 - 
The Bears will need some help to wrap up the NFC North in Week 15, but nothing would be sweeter for Chicago than punching its ticket to the playoffs at the expense of the Packers. After all, Green Bay dealt the Bears their most recent postseason loss, in the NFC Championship Game nearly eight years ago.

NFL.com: #6, up 2 - 
...dominating defense still resonates in the NFL. Yes, even in this era, when the middle of the field has become a posh fairway on which tight ends can rack up fantasy points, and anything so much as breathing heavily on the quarterback extends drives. The Bears upended Jared Goff on Sunday night's most important down. Akiem Hicks' sack of Goff on fourth-and-4 with less than five minutes left served as the nightcap on a date with the league's premier offense that couldn't have gone any better for Chicago.

USA Today: #6, up 3 -
Is there a starting 11 in league superior to Chicago's defense? Only one that leaps to mind is Matt Nagy's nearly 3,300-pound Santa's Sleigh package.

Chicago Tribune: #4, up 3 - 
Defense is en vogue, and it resides at Soldier Field.

Yahoo Sports: #5, up 2 - 
Maybe the result would be different if the teams meet in Los Angeles in January, but the Bears domination of the Rams offense was so thorough, you have to wonder if Chicago just matches up with the Rams really well. There’s no way Los Angeles wants to see the Bears defense again in the playoffs.

CBS Sports: #6, up 2- 
That was an impressive defensive showing against the Rams. Can that unit carry them to a Super Bowl?

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