Bulls

NHL labor negotiations will begin Friday

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NHL labor negotiations will begin Friday

NHLPA Executive Director Donald Fehr indicated Monday that labor negotiations with management would start very quickly after the players met for three days here in Chicago.

Just a day later, it was revealed that bargaining sessions with the league will begin Friday in New York, following Wednesdays introduction of the 30-member players union negotiating committee.

Tuesday would be the longest of the three days spent at the Peninsula Hotel. The 53 players on-hand broke into three groups and rotated into different sessions specializing on various topics, and didnt wind up until after 5 p.m. Call it an Education Day. Safe to say everything ranging from revenue-sharing, to salary caps, to escrow payments, to Olympic participation was covered.

Its about getting a chance to share your feelings, said Blackhawks player representative Steve Montador. Its not a one-way street, but a two-way street of enabling and empowering players to speak up, and share and give their opinions while were getting a lot of information and learning a lot.

We had a lot of discussions about what our priorities are, former Hawk and current Capital Troy Brouwer said. Its why we broke down into groups to try to educate ourselves a little more in small groups, so youre not as intimidated to talk and share ideas.

As hard-line as Executive Director Fehr was running Major League Baseballs union for 24 years, there were several cases in which negotiations carried on despite a season at-hand and no deal in place. He expressed a willingness Monday to do the same here, but players like Brouwer know a lot of being able to pull that off comes from the state of talks when the current CBA ends September 15th, and if the feelings mutual on the management side.

Youve got to look out for yourselves. Obviously, we want to play hockey and we want to make sure we can do everything in our power that theres a season come September.

Brouwer was just a fan seven years ago when the entire 2004-05 season was lost prior to the current collective bargaining agreement finally being reached. Current Blackhawks Montador and Jamal Mayers were players who wound up finding work in France and Sweden, respectively. Montador was coming off a Game 7 loss in the Stanley Cup Final for Calgary against Tampa Bay.

We made a number of concessions last time that cost us a season, he reflected Tuesday. Nobody wants to miss a season of hockey players, fans, owners. The game has made too many positive strides the past seven years to try and warrant that. We have a lot to look forward to, and a lot of room to work to get a new deal done. We have issues we want to stand on and we have to be able to represent that. With the corps of players we have here (at the meetings in Chicago), were capable of doing that.

And from experience, Mayers knows league executives and owners will have their own spin on things, beginning Friday.

Obviously, we made a lot of huge concessions last time. Theres going to be issues that arise, but the league for the last seven years has seen revenues grow. Im sure theyll have their angle, but my hope is we can get a deal done. Like all things, it always takes time and pressure for things to happen. But well have faith in this negotiating committee to do the job.

A Full Monty?
Montador says he feels full-strength with one caveat since suffering a concussion in early February, then having an immediate setback when he finally returned seven weeks later, costing him the rest of the season.

Its been just over the last few weeks Ive been feeling as good as Ive felt in a long time. I havent been in game situations or cleared for contact officially, but Im really encouraged with how I feel now, and being able to train for the season thats coming.

The season we hope is coming.

Troy Tried

Okay, maybe Brouwer didnt knock on Caps GM George McPhees door or give him a phone call, but you had to figure he was rooting for ex-Blackhawks assistant Coach Mike Haviland to get the Capitals head coaching job that was given to Devils Assistant Adam Oates Tuesday. Brouwer played under Haviland in the minors as well.

It wouldve been nice for Havi. I know hes worked his way up through the ranks and done a good job. Im not sure what happened in Chicago, but Ive been with him for a long time, and hes been nothing but great to me and had a lot of influence on my hockey career.

But the winger knows he has to please the new boss, a former Capitals captain whose day also included election into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Guys already know he was able to do a lot of good things in his career and was an impact on any team he played for. I think hes going to bring some of that mentality to our team.

Bulls turn to Cam Payne as they take on Sixers

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USA TODAY

Bulls turn to Cam Payne as they take on Sixers

PHILADELPHIA -- The Bulls’ starting point guard missing the team’s season opener is less than ideal, but that is the dilemma Fred Hoiberg and company are faced with.

Hoiberg made the announcement during shoot around that Kris Dunn would miss the first game of his third NBA season for personal reasons, but noted that his absence is “excused.”

The Bulls will turn to Cameron Payne as they get set to play the Sixers in Philadelphia Thursday night. The 24-year-old guard out of Murray State will be tasked with running the offense against one of the better defensive teams in the league.

Because of injuries and the numbers game at guard, Payne hasn’t had a chance to show Bulls fans much since he came over from Oklahoma City in a trade that sent Taj Gibson and Doug McDermott to the Thunder.

“I feel like I can be way better,” Payne said when asked about the opportunity to show what he can do. “I know I didn’t make a lot of shots but it’s really not about that. It’s about getting my team involved and make sure everyone gets the ball in their spots to contribute.”

Payne showed flashes over the last 22 games of the 2017-18 season (14 starts), shooting 42 percent from three and averaging 4.6 assists per game in that stretch. The shooting stroke didn’t show up early in the preseason for Payne.

He was better in the team’s final exhibition against Denver and has shown enough to Hoiberg to earn the starting nod. He’ll have his work cut out for him tonight.

“Obviously we’ve been working on different coverages based on having a full roster, but things like this happen,” Hoiberg said when asked what this does to his game prep. “It’s going to be electric in here. They’re going to come out and play extremely hard and extremely physical. That’s who they are and we have to be ready for that. It’s a little bit of shock and awe with (the Sixers). You have to weather that first storm and hopefully give ourselves a chance with great effort.”

After Payne, the Bulls will have Ryan Arcidiacono as the first point guard off the bench. They’ll also have the services of newcomer Tyler Ulis, who will be in uniform tonight. Hoiberg mentioned that he feels comfortable with Zach Lavine bringing the ball up as well. He also mentioned that Jabari Parker will have his hands on the ball an awful lot with the team’s second unit.

The season hasn’t even started yet and the Bulls are already missing several key players. After an impressive rookie season, Lauri Markkanen will start the season on the shelf with a high grade lateral elbow sprain. Denzel Valentine will also miss tonight’s game with an ankle injury. The team may have Cristiano Felicio, also dealing with an ankle injury, depending on his pregame workout goes.

“It’s not ideal but it is what it is,” Hoiberg said. “It happens at this level. You just have to go out and do the best job you can. It’s an opportunity for our guys to step up with two of our better players out of the lineup – really three with Denzel as a guy that can make plays in that second unit.”   

Bears return to Soldier Field as home underdogs against the Patriots

Bears return to Soldier Field as home underdogs against the Patriots

The Bears were getting used to life in the big chair. Chicago was favored in each of their last four games, but it all came crashing down at the hands of Brock Osweiler in overtime last week.

The Miami Dolphins pulled off the upset, and now the Bears return home to take on one of the best teams in the league.

Even if they had won in Miami, Chicago likely still would have been underdogs to the New England Patriots on Sunday, but as it stands, Bill Belichick and company are favored by three on most major sportsbooks, according to Vegas Insider.

The line initially opened at Patriots by 2.5, but it would seem that money placed on New England pushed the spread a little more in the Bears’ favor.

Vegas is expecting another higher-scoring game for both teams, with the over/under sitting at 49. Given that the Patriots have scored at least 38 points in each of their last three games, the Bears’ defense may have some trouble keeping this game low on the scoreboard.

In Week 6, home underdogs went 4-1 against the spread and 3-2 straight up. According to Bet America, home underdogs have covered in 20 of their 30 games this season, which bodes well for a Bears team facing a tough task at Soldier Field.