The future of the Pro Bowl remains in limbo

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The future of the Pro Bowl remains in limbo

From Comcast SportsNetNEW YORK (AP) -- The NFL has made no decisions on where or when the 2013 Pro Bowl will be played.ESPN reported Thursday that Commissioner Roger Goodell is "strongly considering" suspending the game for the upcoming season."No determination has been made yet about this season's game," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told The Associated Press. "We have been in discussions with the union about the future of the Pro Bowl."Goodell expressed his dissatisfaction with the low quality of play in the AFC's 59-41 win in Honolulu in January, a game that often resembled touch football. Many players chosen for the game bow out, and if the Pro Bowl is held before the Super Bowl, as in the last three years, players from the conference champions don't participate.It still gets solid TV ratings -- although viewership dropped 8.1 percent in January, the Pro Bowl still was the highest-rated sports program of the weekend.But it's also costly, particularly when played in Hawaii. And with so many defections-- there were 20 replacements for non-participating players in 2012, including Pro Bowlers from the Giants and Patriots who were otherwise occupied with the Super Bowl -- is the game still considered something special by the players?Newly elected NFLPA President Domonique Foxworth tweeted Thursday: "The Pro Bowl is an important tradition we are in talks with the league to improve and preserve the game for our players and fans"Hawaii started hosting the game in 1980 and it was held there annually until 2010, when it was moved to Miami and played the week before the Super Bowl there. Before moving it that year, the NFL expressed the need for a more modern stadium in Hawaii to host the Pro Bowl.The game returned to Hawaii in 2011, but the site for next year's game is up in the air, given the discussions between the league and the union."We have had lots of talks with the players about the Pro Bowl," NFL counsel Jeff Pash said last week. "When should it be played? Where? And certainly the quality of the game."We understand what contributes to the low quality of the game. It does not mean very much either financially or competitively. Players are reluctant to participate in a way that they could be injured. It's not going to ever look like a playoff game, but it needs to improve so fans don't say, I feel bad watching it.'"

Rask: Last season 'something to rebound from' personally

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Rask: Last season 'something to rebound from' personally

BRIGHTON, Mass. – While David Pastrnak, Tuukka Rask and David Backes are back from competing in the World Cup of Hockey in Toronto, that doesn’t mean you’ll see those players on the ice over the next couple of days. Perhaps the trio will practice on Monday in the fourth on-ice session at main training camp, but Bruins GM Don Sweeney confirmed that none of those returning players will suit up against the Columbus Blue Jackets in the B’s preseason debut at TD Garden on Monday night.

“Yeah…absolutely,” said Sweeney when asked if those three players have been ruled out for Monday night. “They’re going to get through the weekend here. Next week, we’ll evaluate [them] when they get on the ice. But, all those guys will not be on the ice until next week.

“It might be case-by-case for each guy. Those guys have been playing for a while at a high level. It’s unique for David Backes coming into the organization, so he’d like to integrate himself. I talked yesterday with all three of them just to get a read of where they’re at. But, sometime first of next week, they’ll be on [the ice].”

Both Pastrnak and Rask have checked in with the Bruins media over the last couple of days after returning from Toronto, and the Bruins goaltender, in particular, has plenty of motivation coming off a down statistical season. The 2.56 goals against average and .915 save percentage were well below his career numbers, and people like B’s President Cam Neely have pointed to Rask as somebody that needs to have a better season for Boston to rebound back into the playoffs this year.

“There were a couple of years where the standards pretty high, so obviously when they go down there’s something to rebound from. You kind of know where you can be. That’s where I try to be every year and I’m working on being there this year, and taking us to the playoffs and moving forward,” said Rask. “But every year is a new year where you’ve got to work hard, and set your goals to be at your best. More often than not you hope [being at your best] is going to happen, and I hope this year is going to be a great year for us.”

Clearly Rask wasn’t alone in his struggles last season behind a mistake-prone defense that allowed plenty of Grade chances, and that could be a repeating phenomenon again this season for the Bruins unless the defense is substantially upgraded along the way.

As far as the other three B’s players still taking part in the World Cup, it could be a while for Patrice and Brad Marchand as Team Canada has advanced to the final best-of-three series that could also feature Zdeno Chara if Team Europe is victorious.