'This is not a good day' for the NHL

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'This is not a good day' for the NHL

From Comcast SportsNetTORONTO (AP) -- NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman received three counterproposals from the players' association on Thursday and left the negotiating table "thoroughly disappointed."No new talks have been scheduled, and the possibility of a full hockey regular season is quickly shrinking."This is not a good day," union executive director Donald Fehr said. "It should have been."The players' association offered multiple options in response to the NHL's offer on Tuesday that called for an 82-game season and a 50-50 split of hockey-related revenues between owners and players.Bettman said that proposal was the "best that we could do" and added that the two sides are still far apart."None of the three variations of player share that they gave us even began to approach 50-50, either at all or for some long period of time," Bettman said."It's clear we're not speaking the same language."Bettman said he was still hopeful the league can have a full season, but time is running out to make that happen."I am concerned based on the proposal that was made today that things are not progressing," he said. "To the contrary, I view the proposal made by the players' association in many ways a step backward."Bettman said Tuesday that the sides would have to reach an agreement by Oct. 25 for a full season to be played."We came in here today with those proposals thinking that we could really make some progress," Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby said. "To hear those words (from Bettman) kind of shuts it down pretty quickly. In a nutshell it doesn't look good."Fehr said two of the union's proposals would have the players take a fixed amount of revenue, which would turn into an approximate 50-50 split over the term of the deal, provided league revenues continued to grow.The third approach would be a 50-50 split, as long as the league honored all existing contracts at full value.NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly disputed the union's assessment of that offer."The so called 50-50 deal, plus honoring current contracts proposed by the NHL Players' Association is being misrepresented," Daly said. "It is not a 50-50 deal. It is most likely a 56- to 57-percent deal in Year One and never gets to 50 percent during the proposed five-year term of the agreement."The proposal contemplates paying the players approximately 650 million outside of the players' share. In effect, the union is proposing to change the accounting rules to be able to say 50-50,' when in reality it is not. The union told us that they had not yet run the numbers.' We did."Fehr said the players would sacrifice nearly 1.8 billion in revenue under the league's proposal. He added that concessions made by the players in the last round of bargaining have cost them 3.3 billion over the term of the last agreement.The players received 57 percent of revenues in the collective bargaining agreement that expired last month.NHL players showed up in force Thursday as the union made its various offers.Among the 18 players at the talks were Crosby, Jarome Iginla, Jonathan Toews and Eric Staal. The scene looked similar to one in August when the union made its first proposal.The lockout -- the third of the Bettman era -- began Sept. 16, and the league canceled regular-season games through Oct. 24. Bettman, in announcing the new proposal, called it "a fair offer for a long-term deal" and "one that we hope gets a positive reaction."It didn't, and now the clock is an even bigger factor.There is only one week to strike a deal for the season to start by Nov. 2, three weeks behind schedule. If those deadlines are met, teams would be able to hold makeshift training camps for one week, and then play one extra game every five weeks to make up for the lost time and complete a full slate."I don't know what the next step is," Bettman said. "I'm obviously very discouraged."In releasing the details, the NHL confirmed the offer was for six years with a mutual option for a seventh. The plan includes a 50-50 split in hockey-related revenue, which is a step forward. The NHL had proposed in July to cut the percentage of HRR from 57 percent to 43, then increased its offer in September to about 47.Management included a provision to ensure players receive all money promised in existing contracts, but the union is concerned with what management termed the "make-whole provision." If the players' share falls short of their 1.883 billion in 2011-12, the players would be paid up to 149 million of deferred compensation in the first year of a new deal and up to 62 million in the second.However, the union believes that money would be counted against the players' share in later years.

Celtics expectations at a new high in Stevens' fourth season

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Celtics expectations at a new high in Stevens' fourth season

WALTHAM, Mass. – As Amir Johnson made his way to the podium during the Boston Celtics’ Media day on Monday, he didn’t waste any time addressing the biggest change from last season this time.

For the first time under fourth-year coach Brad Stevens, the Celtics have  expectations – high expectations – for the upcoming season.

“A lot of expectations I hear around here,” Johnson said. “'Celtics got this,'  'Celtics got that!' Talk to me!”

Well he’s right.

The expectations are at a level we have not seen under Stevens, and its players like Johnson and his play that have helped fuel such speculation.

Vegas lists Boston as one of a handful of teams whose over/under win total is over 50. 

Last season the Celtics were 48-34 which was tied for the third-best record in the East.

Arguably Boston’s greatest strength last season was their depth; the kind that seemed to have a serviceable player at every position times two (or in some instances).

While Boston’s depth this season isn’t any greater in terms of quantity, the quality of Boston’s starters and backups is indeed of a higher grade which is why defending NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers are the only team at this point that’s without question better than the Celtics.

Being a team that’s expected to be among the top teams in the East is new for this crew. In fact, you have to go back to the days when Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen were around to find another time when Boston was thought of so highly in the Eastern Conference.

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens is well aware that there’s an increased level of external support that believes his team will be among the top squads in the NBA.

But he also recognizes his team’s best path towards success is to remain true to who they are and what they do best.

When asked what success for the Celtics will look like this season, Stevens was succinct in his response.

“My expectations never change,” Stevens said. “It’s all about getting better tomorrow, making sure we’re as good as we can be. That’s’ a very simple, boring process but that’s the way that I go about it. The results take care of themselves.”

After winning just 25 games during his rookie season, Stevens-coached teams in Boston have increased their win total each season.

So the growth both he and the Celtics as well as their fan base are seeking, has been pretty obvious.

And while most of the players tried to be as non-committal as they could on what would a successful season look like, Jae Crowder left nothing to the imagination when he laid out what a good season in his eyes looked like.

“Our first goal was to make it to the playoffs,” Crowder said. “We’re beyond that point now.

Crowder added, “Success is home court advantage going into the playoffs, getting past the first round. Two years in a row we got the same result. We have to progress from that. That’s what we’re shooting for.”

Being one of the hunted will be a new experience for the Celtics, one that Danny Ainge is excited about this season.

“We expect our team to be better,” said Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations. “We expect each of the players to be better. We have a lot of guys that are not yet in their prime that are moving in that direction. I do expect it to be better.

Ainge added, “You can have some goals with numbers but overall there’s a lot of factors in determining success. We want to be better at the end of the year than we are at the beginning of the year, however good we are at the beginning of the year. We want to compete against the best teams.”