NHL, union continue to be far apart


NHL, union continue to be far apart

From Comcast SportsNetTORONTO (AP) -- Another NHL lockout is beginning look inevitable.Unable to move beyond the philosophical stage of talks, the owners and players have watched another week slip by without progress. They sat down together for a quick session Thursday morning before reporting the same significant gap that has existed all along.The main issue that divides them is far from complex."We believe we're paying out more than we should be," Commissioner Gary Bettman said. "It's as simple as that."Of course, the NHL Players' Association doesn't quite see it that way.Executive director Donald Fehr has acknowledged there's room for some flexibility in that area -- last week's proposal included three years with a slightly lower share in revenues for the players -- but he hasn't come to the table in a conciliatory mood after taking over a union that capitulated during the last round of negotiations."Everybody understands that employers would always like to pay less," Fehr said. "That's not a surprise to anybody -- it's disappointing sometimes -- but it's not a surprise."He went on to add that the services his constituents provide are irreplaceable."From the players' standpoint, they want a fair agreement, they want one that is equitable, they want one that recognizes their contribution," Fehr said.With both sides so entrenched, real negotiations have yet to begin even though the Sept. 15 deadline for a lockout is fast approaching.The parties attempted to make some progress Wednesday by clearing the meeting room of everyone but the key figures: Bettman and deputy commissioner Bill Daly along with Fehr and his brother Steve Fehr, the union's No. 2 man. They soon discovered there was little common ground.Those same four men will reopen talks next Tuesday in New York during what promises to be a key negotiation session. The sides have tentatively blocked off the rest of the week for meetings as well, but they must first determine if there's anything worth talking about.That's far from guaranteed.A league that lost the entire 2004-05 season to a lockout is in real danger of having the start of another one disrupted for the same reason. The current CBA has seen the NHL grow from a 2.1 billion industry to one that pulls in 3.3 billion annually -- a fact that isn't lost on either side."We recovered well last time because we have the world's greatest fans," Bettman said.The essential difference between the offers put forward so far is perhaps best articulated in terms of their impact on the salary cap. Under the NHL's initial proposal, it would fall to 50.8 million for next season. The NHLPA's would see it set near 69 million.The league also is believed to have verbally raised the possibility of seeing the players' share in revenue drop incrementally rather than all at once. Theoretically, it could be done at a rate that is matched by an expected increase in revenues -- essentially keeping salaries constant over the duration of the agreement while owners take in more profit.So far, the union hasn't shown much interest in negotiating off of that kind of model.While it's natural to assume the parties might be more willing to make concessions as Sept. 15 nears, Fehr pointed out that they already know what's at stake."If there's going to be a lockout -- and that's something that the owners will choose or not choose -- then you would have missed games, you would have lost revenue, you would have lost paychecks," he said. "But that doesn't mean that the parties don't understand going into it that that would be the case."With the possibility of a lockout becoming more real, the posturing is starting to begin. Bettman lamented Thursday that the union wasn't ready to open talks a year ago -- the commissioner did say throughout the season there was more than enough time to make a deal -- while Fehr continues to point out that Sept. 15 is only a deadline because the NHL has made it one.The bottom line is that they need to make an agreement and there isn't one in sight.Seven years ago, the sides battled one another over the philosophical view of whether the sport needed a salary cap. With that out of the way, this fight is all about money, although Bettman declined to go into detail when asked why the owners were seeking such significant givebacks."I'm not going to get into a public debate on that," he said. "Obviously, if we didn't think that there were issues that needed to be addressed we wouldn't be in this type of negotiation."

Patriots 'steel' a win in latest edition of TB Times


Patriots 'steel' a win in latest edition of TB Times

The New England Patriots beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 27-16, and the latest edition of The TB Times was quickly distributed to the Facebook world.

This time, Tom Brady, Chris Long and Malcom Brown are spotted sneaking out of Heinz Field with a steele "W," the headline reads "Pats Steel one in Pitt."

PATRIOTS 27, STEELERS 16: Curran's Best and Worst | Troy Brown: Pittsburgh didn't capitalize on Pats' mistakes


Gostkowski: 'I stink right now...That's just the bottom line'


Gostkowski: 'I stink right now...That's just the bottom line'

Stephen Gostkowski is one of the most successful kickers in NFL history, and he's currently the higest-paid kicker in the league. He has set a certain standard for himself, and he told reporters on Sunday that he's not reaching it. 

Gostkowski spoke to members of the media after missing one of the four extra points he attempted in New England's 27-16 win over Pittsburgh. It was the second consecutive game in which Gostkowski missed a point-after try.

"I'm not happy with the way I'm playing," he said. "Mechanically, I need to be better. Just not playing good enough for this team right now. Keep my head down and keep working. I'm putting the work in. I'm trying the best I can. Need to figure out how to switch it up so I can be more consistent."

He added: "I don't really talk about reasons why I make or miss a kick. No one knows, nor cares to understand. I stink right now. That's just the bottom line. It'd be nice to be able to enjoy these wins a little more with the team. But it's not about me. The team's played great. Luckily the team keeps picking me up, I guess."

Gostkowski has now missed five kicks on the year, including field goals against the Miami, Buffalo and Cleveland.

"Obviously there's something going on and I'm gonna work my hardest to fix it," he said. "That's all I do. This is my job, I take it seriously. No one feels worse about screwing up than I do. It stinks to come in when you win and that's all you talk about is the one bad play you had. But that's the nature of the position. You deal with it . . .

"I've always held my head high, and I will always go out there with confidence, no matter if I miss 100 in a row so that's just the way I'm put together. I'm gonna keep working hard to do the best. Talk about a few feet here or there, we're not having the conversation. Just gotta tighten it up and be more consistent."

Gostkowski was asked if he was at a point with his confidence where he still wanted to take crucial kicks late in games.

"I always want to help the team win," he said. "I'm not scared to screw up. I've screwed up plenty of times in my career. Just kind of piling on right now. At my position, you only get so many opportunities. That's part of it mentally is taking advantage of the opportunities you get. I know that's the deal coming in. It's not like a news flash. This is my eleventh year doing it. Right now I just stink, and I need to figure out how to get better. It's just not working out. Kind of piling on, but I'm gonna hold my head high, keep working hard, keep doing the best I can as long as I keep getting the opportunities."

Gostkowski did not get into any of the mechanical issues he might be dealing with, and he did not explain whether or not he sees a kicking coach to help him with his form. Though this would certainly qualify as one of the most difficult stretches of his professional career -- if not the most difficult -- he said he's dealt with bad spurts of play in the past, and he's hoping to come out of this one soon.

"Being a professional athlete is tough," he said. "When you're doing good or you're doing bad. A position like mine, there's no hiding when you screw up. It's just part of it. You gotta learn to roll with the punches. I've seen guys that have been really good have tough stretches, and I've seen guys come out of them. I mean, I've played bad before. You play long enough, you're going to have stuff like this. Just timing-wise it just kind of stinks. If there was one thing to point to to fix it I would've done it by now. But I need to be better."