The stalled labor negotiations finally saw some movement on Saturday for the first time since Oct. 18 as NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly and NHLPA special council Steve Fehr met in a "secret" location and restarted talks, just one day after the league canceled the Winter Classic.
Both sides agreed to meet in a confidential location to avoid any misinformation and media hype that is currently surrounding the lockout.
TSN reported Friday that the NHL seemed willing to make concessions regarding the "make whole" clause in their latest proposal that would shift financial burdens from players to owners via escrow. However, Donald Fehr refuted that information and announced the league had not put another offer on the table. Here's Fehr's memo to the players, provided by CBC:
"You may have seen media reports this evening of a supposed league "offer" regarding the "make-whole" aspect of the negotiations. There have been no proposals from either side since the last talks took place on October 18th. As was discussed in detail by Steve Fehr on the Executive BoardNegotiating call yesterday, in informal conversations with the NHL this week, we have continued to explore how we can get back to the table and discussed with the NHL the issues we need to resolve, including the "make-whole" provision. We will continue to keep you updated and will let you know if anything concrete comes from these discussions. Meanwhile you should not read too much into media reports about informal phone calls.
"Following further phone conversations today, Bill Daly and Steve will meet tomorrow in a city and location that both sides have agreed to keep confidential in an attempt to keep the focus on the talks and not on conducting media scrums. We will update everyone following this meeting tomorrow."
Another meeting between Daly and Steve Fehr and will take place once again in confidential location on Sunday.
In another example of how amazing Danny Farquhar’s recovery has been, the pitcher will throw out the ceremonial first pitch before the White Sox game on June 1.
Farquhar suffered a brain hemorrhage from a ruptured aneurysm during the sixth inning of the team’s April 20 game against the Houston Astros. But his recovery has been astounding, and he was discharged from the hospital on May 7. Farquhar’s neurosurgeon expects him to be able to pitch again in future seasons.
Farquhar has been back to visit his teammates at Guaranteed Rate Field a couple times since leaving the hospital. June 1 will mark his return to a big league mound, even if it’s only for a ceremonial first pitch with his wife and three children. Doctors, nurses and staff from RUSH University Medical Center will be on hand for Farquhar’s pitch on June 1.
The White Sox announced that in celebration of Farquhar’s recovery, they will donate proceeds from all fundraising efforts on June 1 to the Joe Niekro Foundation, an organization committed to supporting patients and families, research, treatment and awareness of brain aneurysms.
Mitch Trubisky has been set up for a huge season in 2018 with all the firepower the Chicago Bears added on offense. Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, Anthony Miller and Trey Burton will give the second-year quarterback a variety of explosive targets to generate points in bunches.
None of the headline-grabbing moves will matter, however, if the offensive line doesn't do its job.
According to Numberfire.com, the Bears' starting five could be the offense's Achilles heel. They were ranked 21st in the NFL and described as poor in pass protection.
Last year, the Bears ranked 26th in Sack NEP per drop back and 23rd in sack rate. These issues were especially apparent after Trubisky took over. In the games that [Kyle] Long played, their sack rate was 8.2%. It was actually 7.2% in the games that he missed. They struggled even when Long was healthy.
The Bears added Iowa's James Daniels in the second round of April's draft and he's expected to start at guard alongside Long. Cody Whitehair will resume his role as the starting center, with Charles Leno, Jr. and Bobby Massie at offensive tackle.
If Long comes back healthy and Daniels lives up to his draft cost, they should be a good run-blocking team from the jump. But Long has played just 18 games the past two years and is entering his age-30 season, so that's far from a lock. On top of that, the pass blocking was suspect last year and remains a mystery entering 2018.
The biggest addition to the offensive line is Harry Hiestand, the accomplished position coach who returns to Chicago after once serving in the same role under Lovie Smith from 2005-2009. He most recently coached at Notre Dame and helped develop multiple first-round picks. He's going to have a huge impact.
The good news for the Bears is they weren't the lowest-ranked offensive line in the NFC North. The Vikings came in at No. 25. The Packers checked-in at No. 13, while the Lions were 16th.