NHL, NHLPA once again getting close in talks

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NHL, NHLPA once again getting close in talks

The NHL and NHLPA have patched things up and are continuing to push toward a new CBA with deadlines surrounding them.

After two days of separate meetings with federal mediator Scot Beckenbaugh, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and deputy commissioner Bill Daly made their way to the players New York City hotel on Saturday afternoon for the first face-to-face meeting since Thursday.

Beckenbaughs work on Friday and Saturday was crucial in getting the two parties close enough to get in the same room, and perhaps building some of the trust that had been frayed by a pair of misunderstandings this week.

Its been reported that progress has been made in the area of the pension plan and the second year salary cap number, and that both sides are showing encouraging amounts of movement toward a middle ground. Former NHL defenseman Bret Hedican even tweeted on Saturday afternoon that: Nothing official yet that I've heard, but several sources have said it's done. Let's hope this is Official!

But several players contacted by CSNNE.com indicated that theyve heard no official word about the lockout being over, and were skeptical about any reports saying otherwise.

Those NHL players contacted by CSNNE.com are in Ill Believe It When I See It mode after spending too much time on the CBA meat grinder over the last four months.

The assumption is that the NHL and NHLPA are working diligently for an agreement as the hours count down to the players association having another opportunity to file a disclaimer of interest motion at 6 p.m. The NHL is still on target for a Jan. 19 start to the regular season that would open up a 48-game shortened regular season featuring a compacted schedule against only conference foes.

A dose of reality: the NHL and NHLPA have been close to agreements on several occasions in the last month and have had talks disintegrate quickly over one snag or another. So cautious optimism is once again the phrase of the day.

Curran: To gauge Patriots' plans for Jimmy G, look to Brissett

Curran: To gauge Patriots' plans for Jimmy G, look to Brissett

When trying to figure out what the Patriots will ultimately do with Jimmy Garoppolo, forget about the speculation and instead focus on the little things the team does. 

Like how they are tending to Jacoby Brissett. 

After having thumb surgery on Oct. 7, Brissett was put on IR. But the team used its one "Get off of IR free card" on Brissett and he's been practicing with the team for the past couple of weeks while not taking up a roster spot. 

That alone isn't compelling evidence that he's the backup-in-waiting and Garoppolo's about to be packed up and shipped out, argued my compadre, Senator Phil Perry. The team had no other players on IR that they could use the designation on at the time. Why not use it on Brissett?

Prior to that, though, we've seen Brissett accompanying the team to away games including the cross-country junket to San Francisco. A reason? Since the Patriots played three straight at Gillette at the start of the season when Brissett was the direct backup to Garoppolo, he didn't get a good look at the road operation and the tempo of being the visiting team. How things work on flights, in meetings, at opposing stadiums and on the sidelines is worth getting a promising young players' eyes on. Also, getting his offensive teammates used to having him around is probably an even bigger benefit. It's not unprecedented to have IR players travel but its not conventional practice either. 

With so many quarterback-needy teams around the league, Garoppolo is perhaps the most attractive option out there. By the end of this year, he will have apprenticed three seasons behind the best quarterback of all-time in a sophisticated offense for a program that's as demanding as any in the league. In the 10 quarters he was able to play as a starter in place of Tom Brady, he was sensational.

He got hurt and that's not great. But any team making a deal for him that has concerns about his durability can take him for a spin for one season. Garoppolo is on the books for $825K in 2017 and then his contract is up. The team that dealt for him can franchise him if they need another season to think on it. 

I don't think the Patriots are itching to move Garoppolo. They know they are sitting comfortably with a stack of the most valuable commodity in the sport -- good quarterbacks (or at least one great one and two promising ones) - piled in front of them. They can let the game come to them. 

If it does, as former Patriots executive and Bill Belichick consigliere Mike Lombardi thinks it will, the Patriots can rest easy dealing Garoppolo knowing that they already did advance work getting Brissett up to speed.