NHL, NHLPA continue to talk, need to get more serious

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NHL, NHLPA continue to talk, need to get more serious

Its high time that somebody makes a move.

The NHL and NHLPA have piled up the rhetoric and even made some egregious errors along the way. Florida Panthers forward Kris Versteeg can attest to after his embarrassingly inappropriate comments on Monday afternoon painting Gary Bettman and Bill Daly as league cancers that need to be cut out of the NHL. Theres simply no place for that kind of epic stupidity and ignorance in whats essentially a stone, cold business negotiation.

It's time to leave the schoolyard trash-talking crap behind, and make sure every move is one calculated toward forming an agreement with the NHL.

Its well established both sides think theyre in the right, and could prove how stubborn they are if it was merely all about digging their heels in to prove they were correct. But its not about that and its never been about that. Instead its always been about constructing an agreement that both sides can live with while making certain there is a 2012-13 NHL regular season.

With that in mind both sides put all the noise aside and met once again at the NHL offices on Monday evening. There were 18 players along with the Fehr brothers representing the NHLPA. A series of NHL owners led by Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs along with CBA negotiations newcomer Brian Burke filled out the league roster. Of course Gary Bettman and Bill Daly were on hand as well after a rough public relations week for them. The NHLs proposed two-week moratorium could have only been worse if Guy Fieri came up with the idea, and to make matters worse -- the full support of NHL ownership was brought into question in a story out of Philly that Flyers owner Ed Snider was souring on the lockout process.

With all of that new blood involved there was hope for some much-needed progress, and perhaps there will still be some in the following days. But on Monday the NHLPA had no formalized offer to hand over to the league, and instead the two sides spent over 90 minutes talking about concepts and ideas. The NHL wouldnt allow any discussion of player contract rights without an entire offer to pore through, and that didnt happen on Monday.

So with that in mind it appears the time has come to finally get serious about the season, and by connection get serious about an actual, real-life negotiation.

To this point both the NHL and the NHLPA have been more worried about revealing their respective poker hands than any actual concern about losing the entire regular season.

But the time for fun and games is over.

The players need to put their heads together and give the NHL something to chew on that can build a framework for deeper discussion leading to a finished document. That means agreement on a move to a 5050 split of revenue and a happy medium for the make whole provision that both sides can make peace with.

Most of the NHL players understand there is still going to be some level of escrow in the next CBA, but theyre looking to get the best deal possible. That means giving in on some portions of the even revenue split to get the NHL to bend on some of the player contract rights. The players should be willing to accept 6-7 year contract term limits and an elimination of the back-diving contracts, and its difficult to see exactly what they dont like about two-year entry level contracts.

By the same token the NHL should be willing to revert back to the 27 years oldseven years of service guidelines for unrestricted free agency that is understandably important to the players. One area that some players also said was a non-starter: including minor league contracts on the NHL salary cap that would force all AHL players into uniformly cheap deals. Thats an area that doesnt make sense to most NHL teams from a salary cap standpoint, and has rubbed many players the wrong way by squeezing the hard-working, honest players at the AHL level.

Those deals arent going to break the bank either way, and shouldnt be something that the season is lost over.  

Its the kind of compromise that should be happening if the two sides are negotiating, but the trust hasnt been there for a long enough durations of time through 65 days of the lockout. So now the ball is in the NHLPAs court. Theyve vowed all along how willing they were to continue negotiations and to keep talking through their differences, and thats allowed them to enjoy the upper hand in public opinion.

Now the NHLPA has been given a chance to put forth a proposal that could move both sides closer to a deal, and perhaps keep things on course for a Dec. 1 start to a shortened regular season. Indications were that the NHLPA was going to take until Wednesday to put together an offer they would present to NHL officials in New York City, and thats a good sign for everybody.

It would indicate Donald Fehr and the players are earnest in their desire to present something the league will move on.

But it will be an even better sign if both the NHL and NHLPA feel theres more to talk about after reconvening on TuesdayWednesday, and keep grinding toward a deal that should be eminently reachable.

Sunday's Red Sox - Yankees lineups

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Sunday's Red Sox - Yankees lineups

If the rain doesn't prevent it, the Red Sox and Yankees will play the third and final game of their weekend series Sunday night at Fenway Park.

The Red Sox go into this one having won the first two games and are fresh off an 8-0 win Saturday night with Rick Porcello on the mound. Porcello improved to 5-0 on the season after another strong outing. His fellow Sox pitchers are starting to come around as of late, too.

Red Sox starters have thrown at least 6.0 innings in each of the club’s last 6 games, lowering the starting staff’s ERA nearly a full run from 5.48 to 4.49 in that span.

David Price takes the mound for the Sox. Price leads all major league starters with 13.96 SO/9.0 IP this year, the highest mark for any AL pitcher through April 30 in the Live Ball Era (min. 4 starts).

Here is the full Red Sox lineup:

Mookie Betts RF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Hanley Ramirez 1B
Travis Shaw 3B
Brock Holt LF
Christian Vazquez C
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF

David Price LHP

Belichick on Brissett pick: Always try to plan at quarterback

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Belichick on Brissett pick: Always try to plan at quarterback

FOXBORO -- When Bill Belichick took the podium back in the spring of 2014 to discuss his decision to draft Eastern Illinois quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo in the second round, he raised some eyebrows when he professed his belief that it was a position of need. 

"The situation we have at quarterback, I think that we felt as an organization that we needed to address that to some degree in the future, so we’ll see how all that works out," Belichick said. "I think we’re better off being early than being late at that position."

He added: "We know what Tom’s age and contract situation is. I don’t think you want to have one quarterback on your team. I don’t think that’s responsible to the entire team or the organization."

At the time, Tom Brady was about to turn 37, and his contract was scheduled to keep him in New England through 2017. The team also had backup Ryan Mallett entering the final year of his rookie deal. 

Given Belichick's reasoning, and given the team's willingness to spend a second-rounder on him, it sounded as though the Patriots were ready to plan for a future with Garoppolo taking Brady's place. 

Two years later the Patriots spent another Day 2 draft pick on a quarterback when they selected North Carolina State's Jacoby Brissett in the third round on Friday.

The situation isn't exactly the same as it was in 2014, but there are some similarities.

As was the case in 2014, Brady is still one of the top quaeterbacks in the league. And as was the case in 2014, Brady and the incoming rookie quarterback now have contracts that will run out at the same time; both players are on parallel paths to hit free agency after the 2019 season. 

Unlike Mallett, Garoppolo is not entering a contract year. He still has two seasons remaining on his rookie deal, but Brissett's addition could be an indication of New England's plans for their backup.

If Brissett develops to the point that he's ready to be a No. 2 in 2017, and if Brady remains healthy and among the best in the game, Garoppolo could quickly become a valuable trade chip. There will almost certainly be a quarterback-needy team next offseason willing to pay handsomely for a quarterback who has spent three years under Belichick and Brady and held his own in preseason action.

If the Patriots choose not to deal Garoppolo before the 2017 season, they'll end up keeping three quarterbacks on their roster for two consecutive years. That's not completely out of the realm of possibility, but for a team that turns over the bottom of its 53-man roster as often as the Patriots do, it seems like a situation Belichick might like to avoid if at all possible.

One would assume that at the end of his contract, Garoppolo would like to find a starting job -- and starter's money -- elsewhere. If he were to leave, the Patriots could receive a compensatory pick in return that might pale in comparison to whatever they would receive in a trade before the 2017 campaign. 

I asked Belichick on Saturday night if Garoppolo's contract situation played a role in the Patriots selecting Brissett at pick No. 91 overall. 

"There’s always an element of team planning, especially at that position," Belichick said. "If you can you try to look ahead a little bit. If you can’t, then take it as it comes. Things change but there’s an element of planning at all positions on your team, certainly that one."

Bottom line: It's the one position at which the Patriots never want to be unprepared. They don't want to be the 2011 Colts with Curtis Painter and Dan Orlovsky. They don't want to be the 2015 Ravens with Mallett, Matt Schaub and Jimmy Clausen rotating behind center. 

They want to make sure they have capable bodies to man their most important position. By drafting Brissett -- a toolsy quarterback who took care of the football in college  andwas respected as a leader -- they may have found a future backup. At the same time, they've given themselves some flexibility next offseason to seek value for Garoppolo via trade if they so choose.

May 1, 2016: With NHL draft order set, time to deal?

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May 1, 2016: With NHL draft order set, time to deal?

Here are the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading after thinking Barack Obama gave Jeffrey Ross a run for his money as the Roast-master In Chief at last night’s White House Correspondent’s Dinner.

*The man behind the music at American Airlines Arena for the Dallas Stars’ games comes into the spotlight for a story.

 

*Don Cherry sings the praises of Joel Ward, wears a Toronto Marlies suit and said “it was time to go” for Bruce Boudreau in Anaheim.

 

*PHT writer Cam Tucker has Penguins coach Mike Sullivan taking major issue with the head shot Brooks Orpik laid on Olli Maatta.

 

*The Maple Leafs secure the No. 1 overall pick in last night’s NHL Draft lottery, which will no doubt lead them to Auston Matthews.

 

*Now that the Edmonton Oilers have the No. 4 pick, Peter Chiarelli is open to trade options for those teams wanting to move up.

 

*Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk is once again thriving in Ontario just a year after a major health scare.

 

*Good piece by FOH (Friend of Haggs) Kevin Kurz on the unique journey for Brent Burns that culminated in his Norris Trophy finalist honor this week.

 

*Spector has the roundup of rumors including plenty of speculation on Kevin Shattenkirk once the Blues are done in the playoffs.

 

*For something completely different: a couple of reporters actually got into an actual fight at the White House Correspondent’s after-party. It sounds like they both kind of deserved a punch in the face, to be honest.