Another day of no progress in NHL labor war

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Another day of no progress in NHL labor war

The NHL and NHLPA met for a second day with federal mediators in New Jersey on Thursday, and once again no progress was made. Union officials Donald Fehr and Steve Fehr were in attendance for sessions with the mediator, and NHL attorney Bob Batterman without the presence of commissioner Gary Bettman or deputy commissioner Bill Daly represented the league on a day that left both sides exactly where they had started.
Steve Fehr met with the media briefly and said the NHL and NHLPA would be in touch on Friday to discuss the next step, but it appears neither side is budging after last weeks bizarre press conference showdown.
There has been contact between the parties today, principally at the mediators office, Steve Fehr said to reporters. Ive met with the mediator, Bob Batterman outside counsel for the league has been there. Weve met separately through the mediator at times, weve met together, Don was over there very briefly.
I think were done with contact for tonight.
Interestingly enough an ESPN.com report surfaced that one of the Board of Governors had presented a middle-ground offer that, in the words of that individual, would be approved by the NHL owners. It included a compromise of a nine-year CBA that everybody on both sides would be overwhelmingly in favor of, along with a seven-year cap on personal player contracts up from the five-year maximum that the NHL is currently seeking.
The presentation also included a simple buyout option that would be within the salary cap, allowing the league to transition into the lowered cap ceiling and altered financial landscape.
It all makes plenty of sense and has been the natural end-game for both sides once they actually get around to negotiating face-to-face. It could probably end the lockout within a few hours of frank, honest discussion between the key players from both parties, but those moments have been far and few between in these negotiations. So it looks like the NHL lockout will roll past the 90-day mark and extend into next week unless something miraculous happens in the coming days.

MLB players' union agrees to pitchless intentional walks

MLB players' union agrees to pitchless intentional walks

NEW YORK - There won't be any wild pitches on intentional walks this season.

The players' association has agreed to Major League Baseball's proposal to have intentional walks without pitches this year.

"It doesn't seem like that big of a deal. I know they're trying to cut out some of the fat. I'm OK with that," Cleveland manager Terry Francona said.

While the union has resisted many of MLB's proposed innovations, such as raising the bottom of the strike zone, installing pitch clocks and limiting trips to the mound, players are willing to accept the intentional walk change.

"As part of a broader discussion with other moving pieces, the answer is yes," union head Tony Clark wrote Wednesday in an email to The Associated Press. "There are details, as part of that discussion, that are still being worked through, however."

The union's decision was first reported by ESPN .

"I'm OK with it. You signal. I don't think that's a big deal," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "For the most part, it's not changing the strategy, it's just kind of speeding things up. I'm good with it."

There were 932 intentional walks last year, including 600 in the National League, where batters are walked to bring the pitcher's slot to the plate.

"You don't want to get your pitcher out of a rhythm, and when you do the intentional walk, I think you can take a pitcher out of his rhythm," Girardi said. "I've often wondered why you don't bring in your shortstop and the pitcher stand at short. Let the shortstop walk him. They're used to playing catch more like that than a pitcher is."

Agreement with the union is required for playing rules changes unless MLB gives one year advance notice, in which case it can unilaterally make alterations. Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred expressed hope Tuesday that ongoing talks would lead to an agreement on other changes but also said clubs would reserve the right to act unilaterally, consistent with the rule-change provision of the sport's labor contract.

Some changes with video review can be made unilaterally, such as shortening the time to make a challenge.

"I know they were thinking about putting in a 30-second (limit) for managers to make a decision," Francona said. "I actually wish they would. I think it would hustle it up and if we can't tell in 30 seconds, maybe we shouldn't be doing it anyway."

Blakely: Jae Crowder is more than 'just another guy' on Celtics

Blakely: Jae Crowder is more than 'just another guy' on Celtics

As the NBA trade deadline gets closer and closer, A. Sherrod Blakely helps shed some light as to why the Boston Celtics may be unwilling to part ways with Jae Crowder