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.

Talking Points from the Bruins OT winner

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Talking Points from the Bruins OT winner

GOLD STAR: Solid night’s work from Ryan Spooner, who finished with the OT game-winning strike and was solid throughout the game as the de facto No. 1 center. He had four shots on net, six generated shot attempts and won 12-of-19 face offs as he continues to improve in that area while training camp rolls along. Spooner is trying to hold onto the No. 3 center spot in the lineup despite the addition of David Backes via free agency, and Friday night’s big boy performance with speed, playmaking and skill showed exactly what his potential can be when he puts it all together. It was also a nice little bounce-back from an up-and-down game on Wednesday night against the same Detroit team when he struggled in the face off circle and was part of a team-wide malaise.

BLACK EYE: It wasn’t necessarily a bad night for Brian Ferlin, but it was more of the invisible variety with just a registered hit and one face-off taken in 13 minutes of ice time. The forward earned some NHL time with the Bruins a couple of years, has battled concussion woes over the last year plus and is trying to push his way back into the crowded forward picture during this training camp. While he certainly showed some toughness and skill around the net a couple of years and didn’t seem shy about going there on Friday night, the results just weren’t there and Ferlin didn’t have much of a presence in the game. In general it was a pretty decent performance for the Bruins, so Ferlin’s game was quiet more than problematic.

TURNING POINT: Credit the Bruins coaching staff for switching up the lines in the third period, and that sparked the offense a bit after zero goals through the first 40 minutes against Detroit. Zach Senyshyn was moved with Danton Heinen and Riley Nash, and they became a threat in the third period before Heinen broke through for the game-tying goal from his knees. That score allowed the B’s to push things into overtime, and then Spooner made it a quick extra session by snapping home a shot from the slot after a good effort from Joe Morrow down low. It all was made possible by the adjustment to the lines that took place between the second and the third periods.

HONORABLE MENTION: Joe Morrow is battling to hold onto his NHL roster spot with the Bruins, and that is absolutely underscored by the news that Christian Ehrhoff is being brought to Boston on a PTO. So it was expected that the young D-man would come out with something a little extra after a mediocre performance in his preseason debut, and the left shot D-man was an impact player in the win for the Black and Gold. Morrow dropped the gloves with young tough guy Givani Smith in the second period as part of a B’s group that played with a little bit of an edge on Friday night, and then he won a battle down low in overtime to set up the Ryan Spooner game-winner. Morrow had two hits, two shot attempts, the assist and the fight in 19:48 of ice time, and showed that he’s ready to battle in camp to hold onto his spot.

BY THE NUMBERS: 2 – the number of goals in two preseason games thus far for Danton Heinen, who scored important game-tying goals in both instances in the shootout loss to the Blue Jackets and Friday night’s overtime win against the Wings.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “The compete level, especially when he got down 4-0 [on Wednesday night], I don’t think it was high enough. So we talked about it, and we expect a better effort for sure.” –Ryan Spooner on Friday morning prior to going out and snatching the win away from the Red Wings in Detroit with an OT game-winner. 

First impressions: Ortiz moves past pregame ceremonies, hits game winner for Sox

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First impressions: Ortiz moves past pregame ceremonies, hits game winner for Sox

BOSTON -- First impressions from the Red Sox' 5-3 win over Toronto:

* What's left to say about David Ortiz?

Ortiz acknowledged before Friday's game that the pre-game ceremonies and the attendant fuss over his pending retirement have created a challenge for him. Sometimes, it's hard to go from being feted to trying to win a game.

Not that you would know it by Friday night.

In his first at-bat, he singled home the first run of the game. Two at-bats later, he lined a bullet that was right at Jose Bautista.

But he saved his best for the seventh when, after the Red Sox tied the game at 3-3, Ortiz promptly untied it with a laser down the line, landing in the right field seats.

One more clutch hit from Ortiz in a career full of them.

* Brock Holt's defense at third has stood out.

John Farrell is looking for someone to step up with the third base job, given that Travis Shaw is hitting under .200 since the All-Star break and Aaron Hill has had difficulty hitting righties.

Holt, meanwhile, has seized the job somewhat by default, with a .319 average in the last 24 games.

But since starting the last four games at third, Holt has also contributed with his glove.

On Friday night, Holt made a fine stop with his backhand, on the third base line, and fired to nail Devon Travis on a close play at first.

Later, he came on a slow roller to gun down Josh Donaldson out at first.

* The Red Sox have done a better job of late capitalizing on opponents' mistakes.

Last week in Baltimore, the Red Sox were handed a gift by the Orioles when a throwing error by Chris Davis resulted in five runs being scored -- all of them unearned. It took exactly two pitches for the Red Sox to pounce on the opportunity.

On Friday night, it happened again.

Trailing 3-1, the Red Sox used a throwing error by Russell Martin to score one run and put another runner in scoring position. A groundout and single by Mookie Betts tied things, and Ortiz's homer broke the tie and gave the Red Sox a lead they wouldn't relinquish.

Good teams take advantage of mistakes. Two of the last six Red Sox wins are prime examples of that maxim.