Reports: Winter Classic cancelled


Reports: Winter Classic cancelled

Theres no Winter Classic.

Theres no 247: Road to the Winter Classic series for HBO.

Theres also no getting back to the point of no return for both the NHL and the NHLPA as fans are going to be pissed off no matter what happens from this point forth.

According to reports from both ESPN and the AP, the Jan. 1 Winter Classic match between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings at the Big House in Ann Arbor, Michigan on the University of Michigan campus has been cancelled for the 2013-14 season.

The NHL later confirmed the Winter Classic cancellation in a release shortly after 3 p.m.

Reports also indicate the Wings and Leafs game will be set to play in the same setting on Jan. 1 2014 when 110,000 plus fans are expected to be part of the biggest hockey crowd in NHL history. The logistics and money involved with setting up the New Years Day game appear to be the two biggest culprits involved in the league cancelling the signature game, but it also appears to be a preemptive move to keep the WC from becoming a leverage point in negotiations.

The popularity, soaring TV ratings and marketing prowess of the Winter Classic game make it the NHL golden goose, and the league wasnt willing to compromise it given the unsure status of CBA talks.

For the players the Winter Classic only represented one out of 82 games on the schedule, but it was also a giant money-maker for the NHL when the league counts out the hockey-related revenue eventually divvied up between the players and the league. NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told reporters on Thursday that negotiations will begin relatively near future with the NHLPA, and December games will be next on the chopping block.

While the Winter Classic cancellation means the NHL will end up losing the PR battle this season to an angry mob of fans, there are still believed to be a number of league scenarios for a shortened season. But one has to wonder at this point how quickly fans will return given the damage inflicted on the NHL product through 49 days of fruitless negotiations.

O'Gara sent to Providence, but could return any time


O'Gara sent to Providence, but could return any time

BOSTON – The writing was on the wall once Rob O’Gara was scratched in the last couple of games, and he was finally sent down to Providence on Tuesday. The move was made to clear room for Adam McQuaid to rejoin the B’s lineup, and help the Bruins continue improving from their 15th rank among team defenses in the NHL this season.

The 23-year-old O’Gara was a plus-1 rating in three games to start the season, and played very well in 16:01 of ice time while winning physical battles, adequately moving the puck and generally showing that he’s got a future in the NHL. With veteran defenders returning and little margin for error on a B’s back end already featuring 19-year-old Brandon Carlo, it was too much to attempt carrying two rookies on an NHL defensemen corps for a long stretch of time.

So now O’Gara will go to Providence where he’ll play bigger minutes, play in all situations and stay ready for the next time Boston needs him.

“He’s good. I think he makes good passes when he has time. I think we want him to work on maybe being under pressure, and being a little stronger on his feet and being able to make better plays,” said Claude Julien. “But he’s really close. When I say he’s real close I think you could see him back here at any time. I have no issues with Rob O’Gara.

“I think as a young player he has to play, so when we can play [him again] I have no issues with him in our lineup. If he doesn’t get [the playing time] here then we’ve got to get it for him somewhere else.”

While O’Gara is going to Providence for some more AHL development at this point in time, there’s a tacit acknowledgement from the Bruins that the big, hard-working defenseman is definitely going to be a valued part of their future.

Patriots reportedly deal Derby to Broncos for fifth-round pick


Patriots reportedly deal Derby to Broncos for fifth-round pick

The Patriots pulled off a rare deal with a rival on Tuesday. 

According to ESPN, they've sent tight end A.J. Derby to the Broncos in exchange for a fifth-round pick. 

Derby played in 33 offensive snaps over four games this season for the Patriots. A sixth-round draft choice in 2015 out of Arkansas, Derby spent most of his rookie season on injured reserve. 

One of the stars of the preseason for the Patriots, Derby caught 15 passes for 189 yards in four exhibition games. A former college quarterback for Iowa and Arkansas, Derby was named a practice player of the week by the Patriots when they were hurting for healthy signal-callers early in the season during Tom Brady's suspension.

The deal leaves the Patriots somewhat thin at the tight end position. They now have now true tight ends behind Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett. They do, however, have fullback James Develin, who meets with tight ends on a daily basis. On the practice squad, the Patriots have another fullback in Glenn Gronkowski. 

In Denver, Derby will compete with tight ends Virgil Green, Jeff Heuerman and John Phillips for time.