NHL cancels games through Jan. 14

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NHL cancels games through Jan. 14

Just in time for Christmas, the NHL has made what might prove to be the final round of regular season segment cancellations on Thursday.

The NHL announced they have cancelled the 2012-13 NHL schedule through Jan. 14 and its expected any further cancellation announcements will include the entire hockey season. That gives the NHL and NHLPA a do-or-die date of around Jan. 15 to work out a deal, or the league could experience a crippling second entire season cancellation in the last eight years.

A total of 625 regular season games have been cancelled from Oct. 11 through Jan. 14 a span that has wiped out 50.8 percent of the regular season. Per Pulver Sports analyst Daniel Tolensky, the NHL has cancelled an amazing 17.7 percent of their regular season games since 2004 a figure that means theyve cancelled roughly one out of every five regular season games due to lockoutlabor issues over the last eight years.

One thing to keep in mind, however: the NHL was going to re-work the regular season schedule no matter what as they whittle things down to a 48-game shortened regular season. So if the NHL and NHLPA can find common ground for a CBA agreement, the 2012-13 regular season could begin in early January after a post-Christmas training camp.

Another thing to keep in mind: the 1994-95 NHL season opened their 48-game shortened schedule on Jan. 21, thought the NHL has maintained that they wont wait so long to make a decision this time.

The NHLPA is currently undergoing a week-long vote among their 700 plus members on allowing their leadership to file a disclaimer of interest that would effectively dissolve the players union. The disclaimer of interest could allow the players to file anti-trust lawsuits against the league or allow the league to cancel all current player contracts depending on possible rulings in federal court.

Curran's Sunday 4-pack: So, what HAS Tom Brady been up to?

Curran's Sunday 4-pack: So, what HAS Tom Brady been up to?

Six days – four quarters of football – remain in Tom Brady’s four-game suspension.
 
The fact the Patriots are 3-0 and have gotten a long – and enjoyable – look at their quarterback depth behind Brady. Brady, meanwhile, has gotten a chance to shave one-quarter off the season-long wear-and-tear he takes.
 
But highlighting silver linings and pointing out there’s not much sand left in the suspension hourglass is no real consolation. Said one team source Thursday night, “It’s never going to go away.”
 
What’s Brady been up to? Mixing family time and working out. He’s routinely spent four hours a day training, I’m told, presumably with his body coach Alex Guerrero at TB12 Sports Performance at Patriot Place. Also, aside from his Sunday session with Wes Welker, Brady’s been throwing to young college players at undisclosed locations, eschewing the opportunity to bring in some of the “name” former players who’ve reached out and offered their services.
 
Spotted in Italy with wife Gisele Bundchen last week, Brady’s also been back home in San Mateo visiting with his family.
 
Speaking to two people close to him, I was told he succeeded in making peace with the time off and avoiding the creep of too much bitterness. I was also told he’s unbelievably motivated to return at a high level and wants his transition back to be seamless in terms of performance and conditioning. That last part is, of course, to be expected. But it will be interesting to see how Brady does perform out of the gates after a month’s forced exile.
 
NINKOVICH RETURNS, TOO

The lesser of the two suspended prodigal sons set to return next week – Rob Ninkovich – is no doubt going to benefit physically from the quarter-season vacation as well. And the defensive ends who’ve performed well in his absence – Jabaal Sheard and especially Chris Long – will do well to have Ninkovich back in the mix. Mention should also be made of Trey Flowers who has shown up in opponent’s backfields on a weekly basis. It depends on what your personal cup of tea might be, but through three games, Long seems to me a much better defensive fit for this team than Chandler Jones. Jones was the more explosive pass-rusher but Long’s ability in the running game, and his play-in, play-out impact in applying pressure on the tackle in front of him makes it seem so far as if he’s an upgrade.
 
NEW DEALS AHEAD?
 
Still no word on which Patriot may be in line for a new deal since the team restructured Devin McCourty and freed up some cap space.

Donta Hightower, Malcolm Butler and Jamie Collins have been seen as the most likely targets for extensions and a redo of Hightower at this point would whittle down his $7M cap number and possibly allow another extension to be executed for either Collins or Butler, as our Phil Perry pointed out.  Jabaal Sheard, meanwhile, is the Patriot who flies under the radar when extension talk starts. He may be every bit as important to the success of the Patriots defense as the other three.
 
REX WRECKS
 
The Bills are 0-2, the natives are beyond restless in Buffalo and the Cardinals are in Western New York on Sunday. The Bills are expected to play without wide receiver Sammy Watkins and are a team staring into the esophagus of 0-3 with a visit to the Patriots coming next week. Have a gander at the Bills Mailbag in the Buffalo News.  Seems like years since Rex was all giddy about the paint job on his new truck. It was less than 19 months ago.