Progress in the NHL labor talks

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Progress in the NHL labor talks

From Comcast SportsNetNEW YORK (AP) -- Negotiations between the NHL and the locked-out players' association ended after nearly six hours Wednesday. Just as they did a night earlier, the sides agreed to get right back to the bargaining table.Representatives for the owners and players will resume talks Thursday, marking the third straight day they will meet face-to-face. NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly and union special counsel Steve Fehr also met alone Saturday when in-person talks restarted for the first time since Oct. 18.The sides met for a total of about 13 hours over Tuesday and Wednesday at an undisclosed location in New York. Neither side offered any details of what was discussed on Wednesday."The NHLPA and the NHL met today to discuss many of the key issues," NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr said in a statement. "We look forward to resuming talks (Thursday)."Daly also was reserved after the talks ended for the day."Not providing any specifics on today's meetings," Daly said in an email to The Associated Press.On the 53rd day of the lockout, the sides discussed revenue sharing between teams and held talks on the "make-whole" provision, which involves the payment of player contracts that are already in effect.Those hot-button topics are scheduled to be on Thursday's agenda, too.Eight players were in attendance for Wednesday's talks, but a handful of players -- including Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby -- who took part Tuesday left New York to try to avoid an impending storm that brought snow to the area, the union said.There was already common ground before negotiations began Tuesday. The players' union adhered to the league's request to keep the meeting location a secret. With no outside distractions, the sides talked from afternoon until night.Once they broke for the day, neither side gave any hint of what was discussed or if progress was made, but both pointed to the next round of talks.Steve Fehr met with Daly on Saturday, and neither provided many details of what was discussed, but both agreed that the meeting was productive.Time is becoming a bigger factor every day a deal isn't reached. The lockout, which went into effect Sept. 16 after the previous collective bargaining agreement expired, has already forced the cancellation of 327 regular-season games -- including the New Year's Day outdoor Winter Classic in Michigan.Whether any of the games that have been called off through Nov. 30 can be rescheduled if an agreement is made soon hasn't been determined. But the NHL has already said that a full 82-game season won't be played.Back in October, the players' association responded to an NHL offer with three of its own, but all of those were quickly dismissed by the league -- leading to nearly three weeks without face-to-face discussions. Daly and Steve Fehr kept in regular contact by phone and agreed to meet last weekend.Both sides have made proposals that included a 50-50 split of hockey-related revenues.The NHL has moved toward the players' side in the contentious issue of the "make-whole" provision and whose share of the economic pie that money will come from. But work will still need to be done to get an agreement.Other core economic issues -- mainly the split of hockey-related revenue -- along with contract lengths, arbitration and free agency will also need to be agreed upon before a deal can be reached.The players' association accepted a salary cap in the previous CBA, which wasn't reached until after the entire 2004-05 season was canceled because of a lockout. The union doesn't want to absorb the majority of concessions this time after the NHL recorded record revenue that exceeded 3 billion last season."The issues the players are concerned about remain the same," Donald Fehr said Tuesday. "The players haven't seen any need to go backward, given the history of the last negotiations and given the level of revenue increase since then. Player-contracting rights are very important to them."Before we have any agreement, both sides have to see everything on paper and make sure that they all understand it right. That's about all I can say about it at this stage. I don't want to prejudge or indicate that I have any particular impressions or expectations. That's what the meetings are for," he said.

Report: Patriots sign LB Jonathan Freeny to two-year extension

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Report: Patriots sign LB Jonathan Freeny to two-year extension

The Patriots have signed linebacker and special teamer Jonathan Freeny to a two-year contract extension through 2018, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported.

Freeney, 27, was originally signed by the Patriots to a one-year free-agent deal in March 2015 after spending the first four years of his NFL career with the Miami Dolphins. He then earned a one-year extension last September and played 13 games, seven starts, with 50 tackles, one sack and a forced fumble. 

 

 

Countdown to camp: Danton Heinen

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Countdown to camp: Danton Heinen

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From now until the beginning of training camp, Bruins Insider Joe Haggerty is profiling players who will be on, or have a chance to be on, the 2016-17 Bruins. Today: Danton Heinen.

Danton Heinen exploded into a high-profile prospect for the Bruins after finishing among the NCAA’s top scoring players a couple of years ago as a freshman along with a couple of guys named Jack Eichel and Dylan Larkin. 

Since then, Heinen has continued to produce offense at the University of Denver and continued to create offense that leads to points. Now, the 21-year-old Heinen will be entering the professional arena for his first full season with the Bruins and he’ll be attempting to transition from the prospect phase to a regular gig in the NHL. That’s the challenge for a talented player who appears headed into a very good opportunity in NHL training camp.

 

What happened last year

Heinen was every bit as explosive in his second season for Denver as he was in his brilliant freshman campaign. He improved on his scoring with 20 goals and 48 points in 41 games. Then Heinen signed with the Bruins at the end of his sophomore season and played in a couple of pro games in the AHL with Providence as a tune-up for this first full pro campaign with the Bruins organization. Heinen finished with two assists and a plus-1 rating in four games with the P-Bruins and showed the coaches in Providence that he was ready to play and produce with more talented players. If Heinen surprised a little bit as a breakout freshman two years ago, his sophomore follow-up in Denver last season proved to everybody that he wasn’t a fluke.

 

Questions to be answered this season

The real question surrounding Heinen is about his ceiling as an NHL player and just how good he can become as a player with the skills and playmaking abilities to be a top-six forward. He’s proven he can dominate at the collegiate level while admittedly playing with some pretty good teammates at Denver. Heinen showed at the end of the season in Providence that the pro scene might not be much different for him. At this point, Heinen simply needs to go out and prove it against the best players in the world and show that his speed, playmaking and hockey sense are all elite in the AHL or NHL. Heinen’s biggest obstacle might be his size. He'll need to survive as a targeted skill player despite not being much more than the 6-feet, 180-pound range for a forward. It’s about average for a playmaking wing in the NHL, but the hits and attention will be at a much more intense level than anything he faced in the NCAA world.

 

What they're saying

“He’s the type of player that he can play with good players because he’s got high hockey IQ and he’s got really good skill. I think anywhere you put him, he’s smart enough to figure it out. I think you’ll notice him during training camp. It will definitely be up to him, but I think he’ll push some guys.” –Bruins assistant coach Jay Pandolfo on Heinen during last month’s development camp where Heinen soared as a performer.

 
Outlook

While Heinen still has some things he’ll need to prove before he’s a regular contributor for the Bruins, he comes into the Boston fold as an experienced player following two very good seasons at the college level. So, Heinen should be a little closer to plug-and-play for Claude Julien than some of the other young players that have come through the system in the past couple of years. Heinen will still need to flash in camp while being handed a big spot to perform with high-end veterans Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci and Brad Marchand potentially off playing in the World Cup of Hockey. Heinen also has a much greater chance of winning an NHL job sooner rather than later after the Bruins lost out on the Jimmy Vesey sweepstakes and still have a top-six forward opening that somebody is going to fill. Heinen and Frank Vatrano are the two biggest favorites to fill that position, which became vacant when Loui Eriksson departed for Vancouver. Whichever winger loses that battle should be also be a strong candidate for a role on the third line, as well, barring any late veteran signings by the B’s. That set of circumstances leaves a very good situation for Heinen to potentially walk into with the Black and Gold, but he'll still have to show he’s fully capable of seizing his good fortune and good timing. 

49ers' Colin Kaepernick refusal to stand for national anthem ignites controversy

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49ers' Colin Kaepernick refusal to stand for national anthem ignites controversy

Colin Kaepernick was already a noteable NFL player as the one-time, and now apparently former, face of the San Francisco 49ers.

The quarterback likely will gain even more notoriety for his stance on refusing to stand for the national anthem at a preseason game on Friday:

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses Black people and people of color,” Kaepernick told Steve Wyche of NFL Media. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

In a statement released Saturday, the NFL said players "are encouraged but not required to" stand for the anthem.

More here from Mike Florio of NBCSports.com's Pro Football Talk on Kaepernick and Florio on the NFL's statement in response.