Losses piling up for Fehr, NHLPA in losing battle from start


Losses piling up for Fehr, NHLPA in losing battle from start

Steve Burton should have been right. He was right about Phil Kessel having testicular cancer. He was right about Tim Thomas skipping his final season to hunker down at NORAD in preparation for the Mayan apocalypse.

And he should have been right about the NHL lockout being over. Its too bad that Steve Burton didnt take into account the fact that Donald Fehr is still very much involved in this negotiation process.

Donald Fehr clearly doesnt realize hes no longer toying with Bumbling Uncle Bud Selig, a commissioner so inept he couldnt negotiate his way out of an All Star Game tie, let alone a labor impasse.

Fehr, a players executive who has lead his charges into work stoppages in six of the eight labor disputes hes been involved in, is now trying put his mutually assured destruction negotiation tactics into a labor dispute with a league that just eight years ago used a scorched earth bargaining strategy to bring the NHL Players Union to its knees.

The National Hockey League is a niche sport that has over expanded into areas that are clearly not capable or wiling to consistently support the game. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman is more than aware of this and has built support among the teams in those fringe markets that simply cannot afford to make a bad deal and are more than willing to sacrifice a season to get what they want.

Unlike wannabe tough guy NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, or the marginally competent Selig, Bettman wields real tangible power in these talks. All Bettman needs is the support of 8 teams to veto any proposed CBA agreement. It also means over three quarters of the league has to be in agreement to override Bettmans authority. And since the deal to sell the Phoenix Coyotes to Greg Jamison is still pending approval, NHL itself is the current owner of that team giving Bettman his own vote in any CBA matter. With the support of ownership hawks like Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs, that care nothing about the game itself and are more than willing to subsist on other revenue while they crush the players, and teams like Florida and Columbus, whoare more willing tomiss the season to make the deal they want, Bettman has all the power he needs.And as long as Bettman has the support of what amounts to a doomsday cult of hard line owners, the best the players can hope for is to get the best deal they can manage as quickly as possible.

Now before anyone accuses me of being for the owners or looking at this from a fans perspective let me make the following clear: I blame Bettman and the owners completely and totally for this. They were the ones who were more than willing to line their pockets with expansion fees as teams cropped up in places that only see ice in their cocktails. They were the ones who began this negotiating process with an offer so draconian and lopsided you knew they had no intention of ever playing a full season. The owners are the ones that locked the players out and are more than willing to put the entire sport of hockey at risk to line their coffers just a bit more.

And even with the deck clearly stacked against the players, after eighty plus days of seemingly fruitless back and forth Fehr had a chance to get the players making money again, with a 5050 split and the make whole provision. All they needed was a yes or no answer. The time to negotiate was over and someone as experienced as Fehr should have known this.

But Fehr countered, and as Fred Toucher on 98.5 the Sports Hubs Toucher and Rich Show said, he thought Donald Fehrs biggest failing was not being able to read the room during the negotiating process and he was exactly right. There was a deal to be made yesterday. Yes the players would have had to acquiesce to more of the owners demands, but an option for getting the people he represented working again was there for the taking. Not making that deal was risking a repeat of 2004 where the players ended up with a salary cap AND losing a year's salary AND getting their paychecks cut by 24. Fehr should have understood he was not going to win this negotiation when this process started. He needed to make the best deal he could while getting the players back to work to keep their actual losses this season to a minimum and that chance came and went yesterday.

Unfortunately, the owners will win any long protracted battle and by dragging this process out, all Donald Fehris doing is costing the players more and more money while he represents the only thing he really cares about: Donald Fehr.

Need a reminder all prospects don’t hit? Happy anniversary, Andy Marte trade

Need a reminder all prospects don’t hit? Happy anniversary, Andy Marte trade

In a week that has seen the Red Sox trade arguably the best prospect in baseball, Thursday can serve as a reminder that not all prospects -- even the great ones -- end up hitting. 

Eleven years ago today, the Red Sox traded Edgar Renteria to the Braves, and in eating some of the veteran shortstop’s contract, got Atlanta to give them third baseman Andy Marte. 

Andy freaking Marte. Those stupid, stupid Braves.

If you were a baseball fan at the time, you were flummoxed at the notion that the Braves, who were a factory for developing good, young players, would trade the No. 9 prospect in all of baseball from 2005, according to Baseball America. At 22 years old, he was coming off seasons that saw him hit 23 homers in Double-A and 20 in Triple-A. 

“There’s nothing not to like about Andy Marte. He’s and outstanding defender with a chance to be an impact player offensively,” an opposing Double-A manager said of him, per Baseball America. 

Some of the other guys in the top 10 that year? Joe Mauer, Felix Hernandez and Scott Kazmir. Sitting one spot behind Marte on the list? Hanley Ramirez. 

And when the Red Sox got Marte, he immediately shot up to No. 1 on the Baseball America’s list of Boston’s prospects. Look at the rest of this list. Hell, there’s a combined 10 All-Star nods between Nos. 2 and 3 alone, and that’s not to mention the American League MVP sitting at No. 5. 

So what did Marte do for the Red Sox? Well, he got them Coco Crisp. After Theo Epstein returned from his hiatus, he shipped Marte, the recently acquired Guillermo Mota (dude got traded three times in six months), Kelly Shoppach, a player to be named later and cash for Crisp, Josh Bard and David Riske. 

Crisp didn’t exactly rip it up in Boston, but Epstein’s (and then-Braves general manager John Schuerholz’) foresight to trade Marte proved wise. Marte spent six seasons in Cleveland, seemingly given every chance to break out, but never played more than 81 games. He was designated for assignment in 2009 and cleared waivers, allowing him to stay with the organization as a Triple-A player. The next season was his final one in Cleveland, and he left a six-season stint in with the organization having averaged just 50 games, three homers and 16 RBI at the Major League level. 

Marte would bounce around a bit in the Pittsburgh and Angels organizations, but he didn’t make it back up to the bigs until 2014 on a July 31 callup with the Diamondbacks. He’s now playing in Korea. 

Great prospects often become great players, and the Red Sox’ roster is proof of that. Strikeout concerns aside, there’s not much to suggest Yoan Moncada won’t be an absolute stud. Fans looking for silver lining to losing a top-tier prospect (other than the fact that you could Chris Sale for the guy), can look back 11 years and hope for the best. A lot of people were wrong about Andy Marte.

Rowe: Hamstring injury 'frustrating' after solidifying spot in secondary

Rowe: Hamstring injury 'frustrating' after solidifying spot in secondary

FOXBORO -- The timing of Eric Rowe's hamstring injury was less than ideal.

It seemed as though the Patriots had finally figured out their best combination in the secondary in recent weeks with Malcolm Butler at left corner, Rowe at right corner and Logan Ryan in the slot. Then Rowe's hamstring gave out late in the third quarter of Sunday's win over the Rams. 

"I was finally getting into a groove," Rowe said Wednesday. "It does set me back, just me not being out there practicing to keep it going. It is a little frustrating, but that’s part of the NFL. Just another thing I have to take on."

Rowe was spotted in the locker room after the win with ice wrapped around his left hamstring. Even after a chance to watch film of the game, he said he's still unsure as to how he got hurt.

"I’ve played in cold games in college," he said. "I was nice and stretched. I obviously stretch my hamstrings a lot because I do a lot of running. Just one play, a regular play, and I was just running and it came on me. I still can’t figure it out. It is frustrating."

Rowe was inactive following the team's Week 9 bye, but since then he's been close to an every-down player. He did not miss a snap against the 49ers and he played all but one play against the Jets. Against the Rams, he played 33 snaps before his injury. 

Rookie corner Cyrus Jones filled in for the fourth quarter. The Patriots also could use corner Justin Coleman -- who has been active for the last three games -- to help in the defensive backfield should Rowe miss any time. Undrafted rookie corner Jonathan Jones is also an option, though he has been used primarily as a special-teamer this season.

"I’m just trying to take it day by day and get better," he said before Wednesday's practice. "Obviously, hamstrings are nothing to play with. I’m not going to try to rush myself out there and make it worse."

Rowe was present at the start of Wednesday's workout, but he was not spotted during cornerback drills toward the end of the media availability portion of practice. The first injury report of the week will be released later in the day on Thursday.