Shortened NHL schedule could be 'fast and furious'

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Shortened NHL schedule could be 'fast and furious'

While both the NHL and NHLPA have held conversations in thelast few days, there are still no formal plans for both sides to meetface-to-face. That should change in the coming days with a deadline to cancelthe entire regular season waiting ahead in January. It appears as though a 48-game shortened season is the only option available to the NHL.

The shortened schedule is the exact same blueprint that theNHL rolled out when a labor stoppage cut into the regular season in 1994-95.That season ended with the New Jersey Devils winning the Cup, and in a pieceof positive news absolutely nobody views that campaign as an asterisk-worthysham.

The Devils swept the Red Wings at the conclusion of anexciting Stanley Cup playoff season, and ended that campaign on June 24. Itsexpected that an abbreviated NHL season would once again reach into late Juneby the time a Stanley Cup champion is crowned.

The sham element is one of the major concerns as things getclose to the witching hour in CBA negotiations. The NHL is expected to drop anyscheduled games outside of the conference, and could end with the Bruinsplaying as many as seven games against their divisional rivals in Buffalo, Ottawa, Montreal and Toronto.Those that played in the 1994-95 shortened NHL campaign remember it as some ofthe most exciting hockey the NHL has ever seen.

There were no dead periods that inherently crop up in an 82-gameNHL season, and instead every game was deemed important with each team hangingin the playoff picture for the duration of the year.

In essence it was an NHL sprint rather than the typicalmarathon.

"The 1994-95 shortened season was like a sprinttowards the playoffs," said Bruins President Cam Neely, who had an amazing16 power play goals during that shortened campaign that ended for the Bruins inthe first round of the playoffs against the eventual champion Devils. "So it'llbe just that, I don't know how many games if we do end up playing how manywe'll be able to get into the schedule, but it'll be a sprint to the playoffsand everybody will know that. It's just a matter of what kind of condition theplayers are going to be in because it's going to start off fast and furious."

The danger is that most everybody could see the benefits ofdropping the NHL regular season down to 60 games on a regular basis. Just lopoff the months of October and November, and drop the NHL season right into theheart of winter just prior to the holidays. That will never happen, of course.The NHL owners want the box office from an 82-game regular season, and it wouldbe impossible to reach last years 3.3 billion in revenues if a quarter of thehockey season was erased from existence.

One thing weve all unfortunately learned during a currentNHL lockout that reached Day No. 100 on Saturday: Its all about the bottomline money in the end.

But the potential excitement for an abbreviated NHLseason is one of the few positives that might arise from the CBA morass thatsplayed out after the last three months.

Red Sox will re-assess Rodriguez's progress after rehab start

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Red Sox will re-assess Rodriguez's progress after rehab start

CHICAGO -- Eduardo Rodriguez's return to the Red Sox rotation is going to take a little while longer.

Rodriguez will make at least one more rehab start for Pawtucket Sunday before the Red Sox re-assess his progress.

There had been some thought that Rodriguez would need only two outings on his rehab assignment. But the decision was made Wednesday to give him at least one more.

Rodriguez had a good outing for Pawtucket Tuesday night, allowing three runs on five hits in six innings of work.

All three runs came in the first inning, after which he showed improvement. "From the second to the sixth innings,'' said Farrell, "they were probably more crisp, more sharp. Looking for that to continue to advance."

Rodriguez, too, said he felt better than he did the first time out, when he allowed three runs in just 3 2/3 innings.

"I feel more control of the ball,'' he said. "I feel more comfortable throwing the ball in the game. Physically, I feel fine. I just see how everything goes every day like bullpens, running and everything. I just want to get back as fast as I can. But I want to get back 100 percent, I don't want to get back at 70 percent and go out there and don't do like I normally do."

Rodriguez, of course, has missed the first month of the season after tweaking his knee at the beginning of spring training.

"The first start I made in Pawtucket,'' recalled Rodriguez, ''I was thinking too much on my knee. Every pitch I'm throwing, I'm thinking like 'Don't push too much,' but (Tuesday) night it was every pitch I'm throwing just thinking of the game and not my knee."

After throwing 84 pitches Tuesday night, the Red Sox want him to get his pitch count over 90 in his next outing.

''I think with each outing he's getting, he's gaining more confidence and feeling more maybe natural and free on the mound," Farrell said.

 

Ainge: 'This offseason is bigger' than others for Celtics

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Ainge: 'This offseason is bigger' than others for Celtics

WALTHAM, Mass. – There was very little sizzle in the moves made by Boston during last season, one in which they were hoping would be a summer full of basketball fireworks.

Well the bar is once again set relatively high for the Celtics this offseason, one in which the chances of making an impact, fireworks-worthy deal appear to be even better now than they were a year ago.

The Celtics have Brooklyn’s first-round pick in next month’s draft that has a 15.6 percent chance of being the top overall selection, and will be no worse than the sixth overall pick.

That’s just the first of eight picks for the Celtics in next month’s draft.

Boston has the potential to shed enough salary to offer a pair of near-max contracts to free agents this summer.

“We look forward to every offseason,” said Danny Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations. “This offseason is bigger. My expectations are high this offseason. And yet I also know that it takes good fortune.”

There’s the NBA draft lottery later this month.

“We need some ping-pong balls to bounce our way, give us the best opportunity,” Ainge said.

The Celtics own Brooklyn’s first-round pick courtesy of the Kevin Garnett/Paul Pierce trade with Brooklyn in 2013. That pick will be no worse than the sixth overall selection this season but has a 15.6 percent chance of being the top overall selection.

“Whether we use that pick, trade that pick and … in free agency we have opportunities. That’s all we have,” Ainge said. “We have no guarantees of great things happening. We have a lot of hope. We have a lot of work ahead of us. We have to have Plan A through Z; usually it’s A through G.”

Tonight's lineups: Red Sox at White Sox

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Tonight's lineups: Red Sox at White Sox

The Red Sox face a left-hander -- Carlos Rondon, in this case -- for the second night in a row as they play the middle game of their three-night series in Chicago against the White Sox.

The lineups:

RED SOX:
Mookie Betts RF
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Chris Young LF
Travis Shaw 1B
Josh Rutledge 3B
Christian Vazquez C
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
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Clay Buchholz P

WHITE SOX:
Adam Eaton RF
Jimmy Rollins SS
Jose Abreu 1B
Todd Frazier 3B
Melky Cabrera LF
Brett Lawrie 2B
Jerry Sands DH
Dioner Navarro C
Austin Jackson CF
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Carlos Rondon P