NHL, NHLPA sit down with federal mediators


NHL, NHLPA sit down with federal mediators

The NHL and NHLPA sat down with federal mediators for the first time on Wednesday, and spent an uneventful day getting the third party up to speed in the lockout thats approaching 80 days. The meetings took place in Washington DC, and there werent many details released following the briefing. The NHL exited without making any kind of statement, and NHLPA Executive Director Donald Fehr basically confirmed their group sat down with mediators.
A small group of NHLPA staff and players met today with two experienced FMCS (Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service) mediators. We expect that these discussions will resume on Thursday," said Fehr after those meetings commenced.
Third party mediation was also attempted during the 2004-05 lockout; once to save the season in Hail Mary effort during the month of February in 2005 before the season was cancelled three days later. Then the two sides attempted mediation again during the following summer with a productive outcome. The hope is an objective party will help get the negotiating process on track, but the problem is that federal mediation is non-binding. Therefore both the NHL and NHLPA dont have to follow any of the suggestions brought forth by the mediators.
Both the NHL and NHLPA will once again meet with mediators on Thursday, and perhaps there will be a better indication of traction in the discussions. The NHL and NHLPA sit 182 million apart in a make whole provision to guarantee contracts and are diametrically opposed to a number of player contract rights among other issues in negotiations.

Warriors didn't play takeaway; Thunder played giveway


Warriors didn't play takeaway; Thunder played giveway

The Oklahoma City Thunder choked. I mean, they got a gigantic tumble weed lodged in their larynx.

The better team did not win. However, the Golden State Warriors are actually better than the Thunder in one category:


The Warriors know who they are and how they have to win. It never changes. Fire away, baby, and sooner or later the shots will fall . . . especially if the opposition has no clue who they are and how they got the lead in the first place.

I'm not sure if the Warriors are a great team defensively, or if OKC simply couldn't run an offense to extend its leads in Games 6 and 7. The best basketball analyst for my money is Kenny "The Jet" Smith. He accurately pointed out that one ill-advised 3-point attempt by Russell Westbrook in the first half crushed the Thunder’s chance to extend their lead into double digits. The same happened with a bad 3 in the fourth quarter.

The Warriors can kill a rally or get back into a game as soon their 3s fall. That is how they win . . . period. The Thunder tried to play Golden State's game at the worst times. OKC forgot that ball movement, player motion and setting up Kevin Durant for the best shot possible is how to win, not by hoisting panic-ridden 3s from the top of the key. To be fair, in the first half Durant did good job getting others involved. But when the Warriors got on a roll, the OKC offense froze with fear.

It simply amazes me how the Thunder would leave the paint wide open on the offensive end. No cuts, no pick-and-rolls (or not enough of them, anyway). Simply give the ball to Durant and then stand there. Or worse! KD gives the ball to Westbrook or another teammate and then he stands there! My God, give up the ball and move, Kevin! To me it was Durant’s stagnation without the ball that cost Oklahoma City a shot at the title.

Golden State was a very opportunistic team. It was not going to take the game or games from you. But if you wanted to give the Warriors a chance, no matter how slight, they'd accept it. And that’s exactly what OKC did.

Billy Donovan, Westbrook and Durant should feel sick to their stomach. If they don’t, something is wrong with them. My suspicion all three have driven the porcelain bus. Figuratively.

I was rooting for Durant because finally, finally Westbrook was buying into the team concept. But in the end it was Durant who let his team -- and city -- down,