NHL labor talks gain traction after secret meeting

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NHL labor talks gain traction after secret meeting

The welcomed term traction has finally become a buzzword in the CBA negotiations between the NHL and the NHLPA this weekend. The second-in-commands for both the NHLPA, lead counsel Steve Fehr, and the NHL, Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly, met at an undisclosed location on Saturday into the wee hours of Sunday, and both sounded hopeful tones after the meeting was over.

That it happened just 24 hours after the league cancelled the Winter Classic was a curious case of timing.

The long face-to-face exchange of ideas should lead to more bargaining sessions, and could be the first step toward a new deal that could save the season. Daly sounded optimistic on Sunday morning, but in true secretive fashion neither side was willing to share much of what was discussed during the long Saturday night meeting.

We had a series of meetings over the course of the day and had a good, frank discussion on the most important issues separating us, said Daly after it was over.

Fehr echoed Dalys sentiments on Sunday morning, but there was a sign much more encouraging than the curt statements from both high-level execs. The fact that none of their discussions have leaked into the media shows two sides that are looking to make a deal rather than win the next round in a prolonged PR battle.

"I agree with what Bill said," said Fehr in a separate statement. "Hopefully we can continue the dialogue, expand the group, and make steady progress."

While both sides have already essentially agreed that Hockey Related Revenue will drop to a 5050 split between the league and the players, the rapidity of reaching the even split is still believed to be a sticking point. But perhaps the biggest subject of discussion between the two sides is the make whole provision offered by the NHL in their last proposal.

The make whole agreement would guarantee that players will receive all of the money owed to them in contracts signed prior to the CBA expiration, but the original offer essentially boiled down to players-paying-players in deferred installments over time. Its believed the two sides are now discussing NHL ownership funding a portion of the make whole provision, and both sides perhaps agreeing to an escrow cap that will limit the money taken from players.

Its the kind of topic that only an economics major would dream about discussing, but it also might be the key to new CBA getting hammered out in the next few weeks. Right now its just a nice beginning to the process, but an agreement in the coming weeks could pave the way for a shortened 64-game season along with a full complement of Stanley Cup playoffs.
The NHL and the players will look to make more positive steps next week, and hopefully expand the process toward an agreement.

Halftime stars, studs and duds: Celtics hold on to lead after Kings rally back

Halftime stars, studs and duds: Celtics hold on to lead after Kings rally back

BOSTON – The Boston Celtics take a slim 47-46 lead into the half over Sacramento, a team they have dominated at the TD Garden. 

The Celtics are looking to extend their winning streak at home over the Kings to nine in a row with a victory tonight. 

But the Kings are not going to go down easily, as they rallied back from a 13-point deficit in the first quarter. 

After Boston went ahead 29-19, the Kings scored the final 10 points of the quarter to tie it at 29. 

Sacramento took a couple of brief leads in the second, only for the Celtics to get a clutch shot or a timely stop defensively. 

The final points of the half came on a put-back basket by Al Horford which gave Boston a one-point lead that would serve as the margin going into the half. 

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from the first half of Friday’s game.

 

STARS

Al Horford

After taking just five shots in Wednesday’s loss to Detroit, Horford had as many in the first six minutes. He would finish the half with 16 points on 7-for-11 shooting which included a pair of three-pointers.

DeMarcus Cousins

He had a horrible first half shooting the ball, but there was no denying Cousins’ presence and impact on the game. Despite missing six of his nine shot attempts he still led them with nine points and five rebounds.

 

STUDS

Avery Bradley

He looked a lot more like the Avery Bradley we’ve seen most of this season, and not the one who was a non-factor for most of Wednesday’s loss to Detroit. At the half he had nine points and four rebounds.

Matt Barnes

The oldest player on the floor certainly didn’t look past his prime. The 36-year-old small forward came off the Kings bench to score six points along with grabbing eight rebounds. 

 

DUDS

Rudy Gay

A 19.6 points per game scorer this season, Gay couldn’t get into any kind of flow or rhythm offensively. At the half, he had four points on 2-for-8 shooting which included him missing all four of his three-pointers.

Don't expect to see Celtics shy away from 3-pointers

Don't expect to see Celtics shy away from 3-pointers

BOSTON – There were a bunch of numbers from Boston’s 121-114 loss to Detroit on Wednesday that stood out. 

Among the eye-grabbing stats was the fact that the Celtics had taken 42 3s (with 15 makes), an unusually high number of attempts that we may see matched or even surpassed tonight against the Sacramento Kings. 

Don’t count head coach Brad Stevens among those surprised to see the Celtics attempt a lot of three-pointers. 

Last season the Celtics took 26.1 three-pointers per game which ranked 11th in the NBA. 

This season they’re up to 31.2 three-pointers attempted and 11.3 made which both rank fifth in the NBA. 

You can count Kelly Olynyk among the Celtics pleased with the team's increased emphasis on shooting 3s. 

The 7-foot led the NBA in shooting percentage (.405) on 3s taken last season.

"We play a lot of spread offense with four shooters, four perimeter guys," Olynyk, who is shooting 38.1 percent on 3s this season, told CSNNE.com. "We're trying to make teams shrink their defense and spray out and hopefully make shots. You're making extra passes, giving up good ones for great ones. And we have some pretty good shooters on our team. That's the way we're trying to play. It's just a matter of us making shots."

And the Celtics face a Kings team ranks among the NBA’s worst at limiting 3-point attempts with Sacramento opponents averaging 28.4 three-pointers taken per game which ranks 25th in the league. 

One of Stevens’ main points about three-pointers is while it’s an important shot for them, they need to be the right shot, the right basketball play at the right time. 

And when asked about the 42 attempts against the Pistons, he was quick to acknowledge those were for the most part the right shots to be taken. 

“They are,” Stevens said. “At the end of the day we want lay-ups. And if we don’t get layups, we want the floor to be shrunk. If the defense shrinks in, you’re able to touch the paint and kick out. Two of our last three games, maybe three of the last four, two-thirds of our possessions we touched the paint or shrunk the defense with a roll. That’s our objective. We’re not a team that gets to the foul line a lot. We’re not a team that rebounds at a high rate. And we haven’t scored in transition. To be able to be sitting where we are offensively, a big reason is because we space the floor.”