Sanderson: NHL, NHLPA on verge of seriously damaging the league

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Sanderson: NHL, NHLPA on verge of seriously damaging the league

BOSTON -- Derek Sanderson knows all about regrets in the NHL.

The flashy Bruins center won a pair of Stanley Cups in Boston while exploding into a celebrity off the ice known for his irreverence and frolicsome lifestyle. But the Bs bon vivant also became the worlds highest-paid athlete for a time when he eschewed the NHL for the WHAs Philadelphia Blazers and a 2.6 million contract in 1972.

Unfortunately, things didnt work out . . . as often happens when somebody is simply chasing the money.   

Sanderson missed his Bruins teammates terribly and injuries kept him off the ice for Philly. Ultimately the Blazers bought him out of his pricey contract after he'd appeared in only eight games for them. The flamboyant Bs legend still lists the decision to sign with the WHA as the biggest regret of his entire hockey career, so he knows a thing or two about learning from mistakes.

Thats why Sanderson is concerned that his NHL is on its way to a monumental gaffe if Gary Bettman and Donald Fehr cant find a proper CBA agreement that will guarantee a 2012-13 regular season. At this point it will be a shortened campaign, which could be 64-68 games if they start on Dec. 1, and Sanderson thinks the NHL could live through such a still-possible scenario.

But all bets are off if they miss the whole season, as they did in 2004-05.

I think hockey will survive despite it all, but it could be a long time coming back if they do not have hockey this year, said Sanderson, who has been giving interviews over the last two weeks to promote his new autobiography Crossing the Line: The Outrageous Stories of a Hockey Original that was released in October. There might be trouble if they dont bring it back to the people soon in Hi-Def on TV.

For most people, theyre not actively looking for hockey until football is over. Once the NFL season is over, people are going to be asking, Wheres the Bruins? If you dont get it by Christmas and you dont let kids watch the games, then youre going to hurt the game.

Of greater concern to Sanderson and undoubtedly to many past generations of players who worship the game of hockey and the NHL are the two executives at the heart of the CBA negotiations. The Turk openly wonders how high the level of concern is about the NHL when its a pair of negotiators from outside the hockey world controlling the fate of this season and beyond.

I think hockey is the greatest game in the world. You cant say too much about the lockout. But I dont understand it, said Sanderson. Gary Bettman is a basketball guy and Donald Fehr is a baseball guy, isnt he? Why are they talking about hockey?

The owners had a great CBA the last time if they did it properly. Just dont frontload the contracts and sign guys to contracts for 10 or 15 years. Dont make those deals. But they did it to themselves and now theyre looking for something else.

The sports references point to Bettman's start as David Stern's right-hand man in the NBA, and Fehr's 25 years of service heading the Major League Baseball Players Association before joining up with the NHLPA.

Sanderson no longer has a direct stake in the game as he did when he was a player for the Bruins, Canucks, Penguins, Blues and Rangers, or when he served as the Bruins color analyst for more than 10 years. He now helps athletes manage their money as vice-president of a Boston-based company called Baystate Wealth Management, and tries to teach them about the past financial mistakes in his own life that once left him penniless.  

Sanderson is also hoping his words might help the NHL avoid repeating the mistakes of the 2004-05 lockout, which they seem hell-bent on doing to the dismay of many.

Syracuse uses late 99-yard drive to beat UConn, 31-24

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Syracuse uses late 99-yard drive to beat UConn, 31-24

EAST HARTFORD, Conn. - Syracuse receiver Amba Etta-Tawo is making the most of his final year of college eligibility.

The graduate transfer from Maryland caught 12 passes for a school-record 270 yards and two touchdowns and the Orange beat UConn 31-24 on Saturday to snap a two-game losing skid.

Etta-Tawo scored twice in the game's first five minutes on touchdown receptions of 57 and 30 yards. His 59-yard catch from the shadow of his team's goal line highlighted a 12-play 99-yard fourth-quarter drive that put the game away for the Orange (2-2).

It was his fourth straight game with at least 100 yards receiving.

"It goes back to chemistry with the quarterback and the coaches trusting me," Etta-Tawo said. "They trust that I'll make the plays and they keep on giving me opportunities to make the plays."

Syracuse quarterback Eric Dungey completed 26 of 40 passes for 407 yards and those two scores. He also scored on a 6-yard run to complete the length-of the field drive.

"We had to do it," said Etta-Tawo. "We had to drive down the field and try to put the game out, and that's exactly what we did. Everybody dug in, dug a little deeper."

Noel Thomas had 14 receptions for 111 yards for UConn (2-2). Huskies running back Arkeel Newsome ran for 81 yards and a touchdown.

It took Syracuse just 51 seconds on its first drive and 92 seconds on its second for Dungey and Etta-Tawo to make it 14-0. Etta-Tawo had five catches for 115 yards in the first quarter.

"I think he's already passed his previous career high as a collegian in the first four games with us, (more than) his whole entire career he had at the other school," coach Dino Babers said. "I think, if you asked him, I think he might have made a good choice (to transfer)."

The Huskies responded by scoring twice in the second quarter and for the second straight week, the Orange couldn't hold the early double-digit lead.

"We can't just go up 14-0, 17-0 in the beginning of the game and then put ourselves back in a dog fight," said linebacker Zaire Franklin, who was in on 14 tackles. "Some of these games we've got to have it over by the beginning of the second quarter."

Cordell Hudson pickup off a tipped pass from UConn quarterback Bryant Shirreffs and ran 22-yards down the left sideline for a touchdown that gave the Orange a 24-17 lead. It was just the second interception for the Orange this season.

The Huskies had a chance to tie the game in the fourth quarter after holder Tyler Davis, a former high school quarterback, hit tight end Tommy Myers with a 17-yard pass on a fake field goal to set the Huskies up at the Syracuse 8-yard line.

But Syracuse's defense held, and linebacker Franklin stopped Shirreffs on a fourth-and goal from the 2-yard line with just over 6 minutes left. The Orange marched the length of the field to put the game away.

"Going back, I would probably buy some more time and throw it to the back of the end zone," said Shirreffs, who threw a 24-yard touchdown to Davis with 33 seconds left to make the final score close. "I came up short. The linebacker made a good play and I didn't."