NHL, NHLPA agree to undergo federal mediation

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NHL, NHLPA agree to undergo federal mediation

It was another day -- No. 72 of the lockout for those counting at home -- and another turn in the painfully slow CBA negotiations between the NHL and NHLPA.

On late Monday afternoon the news broke that both the players union and the league agreed to allow the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS) to sit down with both parties to attempt to find a workable solution. The FMCS will sit down to negotiations with both groups this week.

The two sides are 182 million apart in the make-whole provision and have hit road blocks in several areas of contract player rights with all NHL games now cancelled through Dec. 14.

So bringing in federal mediation services has a "cant hurt" appeal to both parties.

Perhaps a fresh set of eyes can help both sides see the fair deal thats sitting right in front of them and aid in saving the 2012-13 season while its still possible. But at the same time the federal mediation service doesnt have any binding power over either the NHL or the NHLPA, and will simply be providing suggestions to put a merciful end to the impasse.

George H. Cohen, a federal mediator and director of FMCS, has experience working in both the NFL and NBA lockouts, and his agency released the following statement on Monday.

"I have had separate, informal discussions with the key representatives of the National Hockey League and the National Hockey League Players' Association during the course of their negotiations for a successor collective bargaining agreement," Cohen said. "At the invitation of the FMCS, and with the agreement of both parties, the ongoing negotiations will now be conducted under our auspices. I have assigned Deputy Director Scot L. Beckenbaugh, Director of Mediation Services John Sweeney, and Commissioner Guy Serota to serve as the mediators.

"Due to the extreme sensitivity of these negotiations and consistent with the FMCS's long-standing practice, the Agency will refrain from any public comment concerning the future schedule andor the status of the negotiations until further notice."

With rumblings coming out of the NHLPA that theyre seriously thinking about decertification dissolving the players union so they can file anti-trust lawsuits against the league and seek damages in a move that could cost both sides the season and the NHL scheduled for an important Dec. 5 meeting of the Board of Governors, it makes sense to go through the mediation process before either side jumps off their version of the fiscal cliff. In fact its the first logical, reasonable step thats happened in the NHL CBA process in a long, long time.

Before anybody gets their hopes up, however, take this into mind: the NHL and NHLPA also went through the federal mediation process in February of 2005 and cancelled the entire 2004-05 NHL season three days later.

So theres also that to think about.

The good news is that the NHL and NHLPA are entering into the process weeks before cancelling the 2012-13 regular season becomes even a remote possibility, and both parties have ample time and flexibility to work out the deal that everybody is hoping for.

Celtics work out Finney-Smith, five others on Wednesday

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Celtics work out Finney-Smith, five others on Wednesday

WALTHAM, Mass. – The Boston Celtics brought in six players for workouts on Wednesday. Here’s a glimpse at each player, all of whom are considered potential second-round selections or prospects likely to go undrafted.
 

Dorian Finney-Smith

6-8, 220, Florida

Position: Forward

Summary: Was second-team All-SEC by coaches and third-team all-conference by the AP. Led Gators in scoring (14.3) and rebounds (8.3) for the second and third consecutive seasons, respectively.

Projected draft status: Second round.

 

Quincy Ford

6-8, 225, Northeastern

Position: Guard/Forward

Summary: Averaged 16.4 points, 7.0 rebounds while shooting 34.8 percent on 3s. Underwent season-ending back surgery that sidelined him for the 2013-2014 season. Bounced back with a pair of solid seasons, the last of which earned him a spot of on the NABC All-District Second team as well as the All-CAA Second team.

Projected draft status: Late second, undrafted.

 

Marcus Georges-Hunt

6-5, 216, Georgia Tech

Position: Guard

Summary: Averaged 16.7 points, shooting 45.4 percent from the field while dishing out a team-high 3.3 assists per game. Has a knack for getting to the free throw line, evident by him ranking 13th in free throws made and 18th in free throw attempts.

Projected draft status: Undrafted, maybe late second round.

 

Sheldon McClellan

6-5, 200, Miami

Position: Guard

Summary: A transfer from Texas, McClellan averaged 16.3 points, 3.2 rebounds and 1.6 assists for Miami this past season while shooting 50.4 percent from the field and 40.6 percent on 3s. Has a lot of tools that are intriguing to the NBA, but consistency and decision-making are areas of uncertainty about where he’ll eventually land.

Projected draft status: Second round pick.

 

Mike Tobey

7-0, 260, Virginia

Position: Center

Summary: Turned a few heads during Portsmouth Invitational when he averaged 12 points per game. Appeared in all 37 games this season with Virginia, but only had seven starts. Shot a team-best 60.1 percent from the field and was second on the team with 22 blocked shots.

Projected draft status: Undrafted.

 

Jameel Warney

6-8, 260, Stony Brook

Position: Power forward

Summary: The best player in Stony Brook history, Warney was a double-double machine this season in which he averaged 19.8 points and 10.8 rebounds to go with 3.0 blocked shots. An Honorable mention All-American, Warney was the America East Player and Defensive Player of the Year. Does not have much of a face-the-basket game but does provide a nice strong presence defensively.

Projected draft status: Second round to undrafted.

Belichick convinces UDFA to sign, tells him to be in shape

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Belichick convinces UDFA to sign, tells him to be in shape

The moments following the final round of the NFL draft are always a whirlwind because the work done by those in their respective war rooms isn't finished. Every year, coaches and personnel staffers work their phones calling undrafted free-agents in order to round out their rosters with passed-over talent.

Arizona State receiver and running back D.J. Foster was one of those fielding calls on Saturday, giving his cell battery a workout. The Cardinals, Texans and Patriots all came calling, and he was leaning toward what he considered his hometown team in Arizona.

Then the Patriots deployed their top recruiting weapon: coach Bill Belichick.

You can watch Foster's draft day ordeal here with this video put together by 12News.com in Phoenix.

When he's made his decision he gets a call from one team employee telling him how "fired up" they are to have him on board. Then Belichick calls again, his mission accomplished, to first congratulate Foster and then order him to be in shape for rookie minicamp.

Foster was barely in elementary school when Belichick and Tom Brady helped the Patriots win their  first Super Bowl. Ever since, they've been one of the most consistently successful teams in football.

That track record couldn't have hurt Foster in his decision-making process, but it seems as though he was proposed the best financial deal by the Patriots. They're also a team that won't be afraid to try players at multiple positions. The fact that Foster considers himself both a running back and a receiver could be seen as beneficial in regards to him making the team. Being labeled a "'tweener" isn't always a detriment.

In the Patriots offense, there is room for a player with Foster's skill set. Perhaps he will work alongside Dion Lewis and James White as a "sub back," who specializes in the passing game and poses a threat either lined up in the backfield or out wide like a receiver. The other option would be for Foster to serve as a full-time receiver -- something he focused on last season -- who might be best suited for the slot. As an undrafted rookie, he'll also likely be expected to contribute in the kicking game in some way shape or form.

Patriots named Super Bowl LI favorites despite Brady suspension

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Patriots named Super Bowl LI favorites despite Brady suspension

Is the Patriots roster so loaded that Tom Brady can be suspended for four games, and they're still the favorites to win it all? 

Apparently so, according to odds released by the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook.

Not long after the completion of this year's draft, the Patriots were favored at 6-1 to win their fifth Lombardi Trophy even though their quarterback is scheduled to miss the first month of the season after his Deflategate punishment was recently reinstated by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. Brady plans to appeal that ruling. 

Next on the list of favorites are the Seahawks, Steelers and Packers, all of whom are tied at 8-1. The Panthers, who fell in Super Bowl 50 to the Broncos, have 9-1 odds to redeem themselves after last season's defeat and walk away winners. 

The Patriots are, of course, favored to win the AFC (3-1) and the AFC East (4-9), and their season win total projection has been set at 10.5.