Chiarelli: No phone calls to players in 48-hour window

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Chiarelli: No phone calls to players in 48-hour window

NHL owners, general managers and team executives were given permission last week to contact players during a 48-hour window and make themselves available to answer questions about the leagues latest CBA offer.
It was an unorthodox move by the league given the wall of silence thats been erected between NHL players and ownersteam personnel since the Sept. 15 lockout was instituted and one that wasnt without controversy.
The development chafed at the NHLPA membership due largely to the secretive nature of the move amid some contentious collective bargaining between the two sides, and had some players complaining the under-the-radar gesture flies in the face of good-faith bargaining.
All that being said, Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli relayed to CSNNE.com on Wednesday night -- during a surprise visit to a Mens Hockey League at Hockey Town in Saugus -- that he didnt hold any conversations with his players during the 48-hour window of open discussion.
Chiarelli said he didnt hear from any Bruins players with questions about the owners 5050 offer from last week, and the Bs general manager didnt reach out via phone call or email to any of his players scattered around the hockey globe.
There were, however, unconfirmed reports that phone calls to Bruins players were one of the discussion topics during an NHLPA conference call last weekend. It was expected that the hawk owners most responsible for the lockout would be the most aggressive in reaching out to their respective players. Bs President Cam Neely responded with a no comment on Tuesday when asked if hed made phone calls to Bruins players during the 48-hour amnesty period.
Both the NHL and NHLPA are facing a league-imposed deadline of Thursday to get a deal completed that would allow for an 82-game season to begin on Nov. 2, and the 48-hour window was another troublesome roadblock tossed between the two sides last week.

Patriots DT Branch wins appeal of four-game suspension

Patriots DT Branch wins appeal of four-game suspension

FOXBORO -- Alan Branch knew he had a good case, otherwise he wouldn't have appealed. It was just a question of when that appeal might be heard. 

As of Wednesday, the Patriots defensive tackle hadnt heard anything as it related to the appeal of his four-game suspension. But by Saturday morning, according to Field Yates of ESPN, Branch had won the appeal and been cleared of the league's ban. 

Branch's agent later confirmed the news on Twitter.

Word of Branch's punishment, which stemmed from what was reported as a positive marijuana test, became public when reported by ESPN on Nov. 21. Per the league's substance abuse policy, appeal hearings are typically scheduled for the fourth Tuesday after a player has been informed of his penalty. The policy notes that it is possible for appeals to be heard on another date should the two sides be able to work out different schedule, but Branch was not optimistic that would be the case earlier this week. 

Good news came quickly, though. 

Had Branch been forced to miss any time, it would have docked the Patriots arguably their top interior defensive lineman. Branch has started every game, and he leads all Patriots defensive tackles with 457 snaps played. 

The Patriots recently waived running back DJ Foster and signed defensive tackle Darius Kilgo, seemingly as a way to build some depth on the roster if Branch had been suspended. 

By having his four-game suspension wiped away not only are the Patriots saved from having to deal without one of their top players in the trenches, but Branch saved himself a relatively hefty financial penalty.

A four-game ban would have cost him nearly $300,000 in base salary as well as four game-day bonuses adding to $100,000. He also stood to lose as much as $750,000 in season-long playing-time incentives. In all, had the suspension stood, it could have cost him about $1.1 million. Patriots salary-cap expert Miguel Benzan goes into more detail about the potential financial impact of Branch's suspension here

Thankfully for Branch, he doesn't have to worry about that any longer. With this situation in the rear view, he can now focus on helping the Patriots win games during the stretch run of the regular season and into the playoffs.