Haggerty: Where does the NHL go from here?

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Haggerty: Where does the NHL go from here?

Everybody had to know Gary Bettman and Jeremy Jacobs werent going to burst out into cartwheels no matter how good the offer was from the NHLPA Wednesday.
Spontaneous song or hilarious Montgomery BurnsSmithers comedy act skits? Possibly.
But cartwheels? No way and no how.
The players made significant movement toward the NHL with a six-page offer that went away from a set monetary figure for next seasons revenue, and instead aimed toward the leagues request of a set percentage of Hockey Related Revenue (HRR) along with a raise in make whole money.
"There was movement from the players association on some issues, which was appreciated," said Bettman. "There was some movement by us. Hopefully there will be some momentum from todays session that we can build off of."
So the NHL should have been satisfied with the movement, but instead they acted like one of the NHLPA contingent clogged up their toilets during the Wednesday visit to the league offices.
The NHL had previously offered 211 million in make whole deferment money to guarantee the player contracts already signed, and the NHLPA asked for an additional 182 million to that kitty over the course of the CBAs first four years.
In essence you could say the two sides sit 182 million apart along with a bevy of player contract rights they also still dont see eye-to-eye on. To put the 182 million into perspective: it amounts to little more than a million dollars per team, per year over the course of a five-year contract.
Thats chump change in the world of professional sports. It also makes it all the more insulting to the fans that the league simply rejected the players proposal rather than making an effort to work off the numbers.
Unsurprisingly, the players moved toward the league on a number of fronts, and the NHL did almost nothing to meet the players in the spacious middle. Instead the NHL pushed entry level contracts back to the three years as they existed in the previous CBA from a two-year proposal. In their infinite wisdom, the NHL also went to the extent of pushing the players arbitration eligibility back one season.
In essence, the NHLPA gave in to the players on some important areas that put the two parties within shouting distance of each other. But it didnt matter to an almighty Board of Governors thats expected to whack all regular season games until Dec. 15 and the NHL All-Star game by the end of this week. Hows that for a nice holiday surprise to the businesses of Columbus, Ohio that expected a nice business boom at the end of January?
Maybe the Blue Jackets' owners should have checked the fine print on this years NHL blueprint for the CBA.
So where do the NHL and NHLPA go from here with Fehr at his bemused breaking point on Wednesday and Bettman overflowing with smugness as he conversed with an angry Flyers fan during his post-meeting press conference?  
Both sides are expected to hold discussions on Friday about where to go from here, and one would hope that means a counter-offer from the NHL bringing them closer together. Instead, the league continues to sound the alarm that theyve already released their best offer, and that circumstances will only get worse for the players as the NHL hemorrhages 18-20 million per day. Its also not helping that NHL sponsors like Kraft and Molson are either asking for refunds, or simply walking away to spend their money elsewhere.
The New York Post is reporting the NHL Board of Governors will sit down for a Dec. 5 meeting, and its difficult to glean whether thats a positive or negative development for the 2012-13 season.
The NHLPA has its share of frustration as well. They finally had their first union member go broken arrow when defenseman Roman Hamrlik angrily mentioned getting rid of Fehr if the season is cancelled. Hamrliks lockout rant doesnt speak for many players, but it was only a matter of time before one of the voices struck out against the rest of the players singing in harmony.
The mention of potentially decertifying the union was first brought up in a conference call earlier this week, and could become a possibility if the NHLPA gets desperate for leverage. The NBA and their players union were going through a similar impasse last season when the basketball players got serious about breaking up their union, and lo and behold the NBA regular season began a few weeks later.
The decertification process allows the players to file anti-trust lawsuits against the league and even sue for damages in some instances, so its a tangled web the NHL probably doesnt want to delve into too deeply. But it might also give the NHLPA a chance to crumble the leagues salary cap structure once decertification takes place. That kind of action would mean a certifiable World War III with NHL owners that have built their business model around the salary cap.
But it would also mean players have some leverage they dont currently enjoy as Bettman lightly pats them on the head after watching the NHLPA stretch toward the league in negotiations. As stated previously at this address, the players already know theyre going to lose this head-to-head battle with the NHL. Theyre already feeling the urgency to return to work before the game they loved is wrecked beyond belief by the ugly business side of the league.
Unfortunately, the NHL appears to have a date in mind when theyd like to return, and that date will mean a couple of things have happened: the league can still play a maximum number of games played in the 60 range combined with five or more paycheck cycles missed that out-of-work players will never see again.
In the end, the owners will have lopped off the least profitable months of the season while still getting things into gear when the NHL historically tends to take off around Christmas.
Thats the theory, anyway.
Bettmans abhorrence for the NHLPAs gamesmanship and the leagues unwashed arrogance toward the players could always push the entire league over the cliff, and force them to miss another season.
But that moment is still more than a month away, and theyd have to be foolish enough to blow through deadlines on Dec. 15 and January 1. It could still happen, but its difficult to see the NHL unable to field some manner of shortened regular season given the middle ground both sides are dealing with.
Thats a little NHL silver lining on a day that turned out much worse than most had hoped or anticipated it would. At least we have that to be thankful for.

Will free agent Zeller be back with Celtics? ‘We’ll see what happens’

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Will free agent Zeller be back with Celtics? ‘We’ll see what happens’

WALTHAM, Mass. – Tyler Zeller has been in the NBA long enough for teams to have a feel for what he can do on the floor.
 
He runs the floor. He scores in transition. He’s not a banger, but isn’t afraid to mix it up inside.
 
All those qualities will be on display next season.
 
But will he be doing them for the Celtics?
 
As a restricted free agent, Zeller has no idea what lies ahead for him in the NBA.
 
While he plans to keep an open mind about the free agent process, Zeller made it clear in his exit interview on Friday that he would not have a problem returning to the Celtics next season.
 
“It’s a great organization, a great place to be,” Zeller said. “So we’ll see what happens.”
 
Zeller, who came to the Celtics via trade in the summer of 2014 from Cleveland, has had a roller coaster of a time in Boston.
 
He has been in every conceivable positon with the team, from starter to key rotation player to reserve to an end-of-the-bench player.
 
And through it all, Zeller was able to not allow his up-and-down status affect his ability to stay ready when his number was called.
 
Boston’s 104-92 Game 6 loss to Atlanta was one of the many examples of Zeller being prepared to play when his opportunity presented itself.
 
In Game 6, the 7-foot center came off the bench and scored eight points to go along with five rebounds in just less than 12 minutes of court time.
 
As far as whether the Celtics want him back, Zeller said, “I would hope so. You always hope a team wants you back. I would think they would. But at the same time, when July comes around, we’ll really see. When those negotiations start. Until then, you can say whatever you want. Until then, we’ll see what happens.”

Olynyk hasn’t decided if he’ll have shoulder surgery

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Olynyk hasn’t decided if he’ll have shoulder surgery

WALTHAM, Mass. – Kelly Olynyk will consult with additional doctors before deciding whether to have offseason surgery on his right shoulder.
 
The injury kept him out for 12 games in the regular season and he re-aggravated it in Boston’s first-round playoff series against the Atlanta Hawks.
 
“I felt like it was improving,” Olynyk said following his exit interview on Friday. “I had games where it would feel good, games it wouldn’t. It would get hit every game and kind of pinch, set you back. It was tough. It never felt 100 percent the whole time; it never felt 80. It’s tough going down that stretch of games. You want to be at your best when your best is needed.”
 
In the regular season, Olynyk averaged 10 points per game along with 4.1 rebounds while shooting 40.5 percent on 3s.
 
But in the six game series against the Hawks (he missed two games with the shoulder injury), the 7-foot center only scored just two points on 1-for-9 shooting.
 
As for surgery, Olynyk – like most of us – would much rather not have surgery if possible.
 
“It’s always an option when you have an injury of certain degrees,” Olynyk said. “If you can make sure it’s healthy without it, then it’s healthy without it.”
 
Depending on whether he has surgery will potentially impact his availability for the start of next season.
 
Regardless, Olynyk will do what he always does in the offseason — focus on ways to get better.
 
As he addressed the media, he had papers in his hand that included his stats from this season as well as other information pertinent to his offseason.
 
“Stuff to improve” was how Olynyk described the papers.
 
And as he began to elaborate, he grinned, “stuff mostly to improve.”
 
Like a cleaner bill of health, something that would bode well for both Olynyk and the Celtics.