Time, 'dirty tricks' pose issues in NHL lockout negotiations

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Time, 'dirty tricks' pose issues in NHL lockout negotiations

The CBA process in the NHL has been rife with roadblocks and ruts, and the last couple of days have fit squarely in that category.

The NHL and NHLPA spent Friday afternoon meeting separately with a federal mediator at different locations in New York City, and there has been no word of an actual face-to-face negotiating session as the day of business is coming to a close. Federal mediator Scott Beckenbaugh has been moving back-and-forth between locations while looking to patch things up between the two groups after a rocky previous 24 hours.

Some quarters of the NHLPA are upset feeling that the NHL attempted a fine print stunt against the players by reverting back to a previous definition of HRR (Hockey Related Revenue) in the latest offer both sides are working from. In essence both sides had agreed on stiff penalties for NHL clubs if they were found guilty of attempting to hide revenue away from their books.

In the version that rankled players, it was worded within the CBA draft that any attempts to hide revenue would be punished only at the discretion of the commissioner. Its pretty easy to see why the NHLPA had an issue with that kind of stunt, though it should be noted the NHL claimed it was an honest mistake in drafting a nearly 300-page proposal.

Some players like Ottawa defenseman Chris Phillips felt like it was the NHL trying to pull the wool over their eyes and dirty tricks while other players told CSNNE.com it was simply businessmen doing what they do.

One of the real problems is the timing as any potholes in the process put into danger the aim to have a completed agreement by the end of next week. That would in turn put into jeopardy the efforts by the NHL to put a 48-game shortened regular season into place that would begin by Jan. 19, and cause both the owners and players to walk down a road theyd rather not.

The NHL and NHLPA still must agree on:

An acceptable cap number for the second year of any new CBA with the players hoping for 65 million and the NHL standing firm at 60 million. This is an important subject given that a lowered salary cap number could do serious damage to next years free agent class while a higher number means the escrow on players salaries could go through the roof.

A pension plan that both sides can agree on given that its a difficult process that requires outset personnel to settle it between the NHL and NHLPA.

An acceptable term for the entire CBA with the NHL hoping for 10 and the players looking for something closer to eight years. It sounds like there might be traction on an eight-year CBA, but much like everything else that appears to be fluid at this point.

A salary variance for year-to-year of player contracts: the NHL has reportedly upped their offer to 30 percent limits with no year 60 percent higher than the lowest paid season in an effort to wipe out back-diving contracts. Thats something the players can probably live with in the next CBA.

Term limits for individual player contracts as the NHL continues to offer six years (with seven if a player is re-signing with his own team) and the players are pushing for seven year limits across the board.

So now fear, loathing and distrust have entered back into the equation at a late point in negotiations as Gary Bettman is reportedly threatening to cancel the season late next week if the two sides arent close to a deal. Theres a chance the NHL and NHLPA could finally sit down and talk at some point on Friday night, but theres just as good a chance that the newest silent stalemate continues.

Anthony: Despite trade whispers, 'I'm committed' to staying with Knicks

Anthony: Despite trade whispers, 'I'm committed' to staying with Knicks

BOSTON -- When most of Carmelo Anthony’s elite NBA brethren were looking for max-money deals with the flexibility to bounce to another team from one year to the next, the perennial All-Star signed a five-year, $124 million deal in 2014, which was one of the many ways he showed that he’s all-in on being a New York Knick. 
 
And as the Knicks continue to drop one game after another, 'Melo once again finds himself having to answer questions as to whether he wants to be in New York for the long haul. 
 
He acknowledged prior to tonight’s game against the Boston Celtics that he recently met with Phil Jackson, New York’s president of basketball operations. He declined to talk specifics about the meeting, but he was asked whether he felt a need to reiterate his commitment to a Knicks team that finds itself -- for now at least -- on the outside of the playoff picture. 
 
”I think it was just a . . . yeah, I mean, I'm committed,” he said after the team’s shootaround this morning prior to tonight's Celtics-Knicks game. “I don't have to prove that to anybody. I don't think I have to prove that to anybody. I don’t think I have to keep saying that. I don't think I have to keep talking about that. I know for a fact people know that; people see that. And right now my focus is on playing ball and staying with these guys. Because a lot of these guys have never dealt with all of this stuff before. Especially being in a market like New York and dealing with the articles and everybody has a different opinion on different situations. So a lot of these guys have never dealt with that. So for me it's just, it's all about being there. Moreso than ever right now during this time for them.”
  
Since he arrived via (forced) traded from Denver, 'Melo has seen his share of ups and downs in New York -- probably more downs in terms of the team’s success.
 
But even with that familiarity, Anthony acknowledged that this season’s problems do have a different feel than previous ones. 
 
“I've had this a couple times over the past couple seasons so I kinda know what this feeling is like,” Anthony said. “I think now it's a little bit different being the fact that the guys we have on this team, the talent level that's on this team, and for us to still kinda be losing these games, close games, non-close games . . . that's a different feeling.”
 
New York traded for Derrick Rose, a former league MVP, and signed Joakim Noah via free agency. 
 
With those former Bulls, coupled with Anthony and an emerging star in Kristaps Porzingis, the Knicks were expected to provide a nucleus for success that would position them to be a playoff contender. The season is still young, but they've have been one of the bigger disappointments in the NBA this season. 
 
After a 16-13 start, their slide began with a Christmas Day loss to Boston that put them in a tailspin that they’re still trying to play their way out of. They come into tonight’s game having lost 11 of their last 13 games and sit six games below .500 at 18-24.
 
And as far as Anthony's future with the Knicks, if he leaves it will be his decision. 
 
But he's maintained -- throughout the peaks and valleys in his time with the Knicks -- that he has no desire to play for any other franchise, which is why the no-trade he has is so important. 
 
Simply put, he ain’t leaving New York unless he wants to. 
 
“I think as players you always want to protect yourself,” Anthony said. “I didn't think it would get to this point, but I think as a player if you can get that (no-trade clause), you have a right to protect yourself and take care of yourself when it comes to that. It's very hard to get . . . So, I have it and that's that.”

Sam Travis among nine non-roster invitees added to Red Sox spring training roster

Sam Travis among nine non-roster invitees added to Red Sox spring training roster

The Red Sox have invited nine non-roster players to spring training, the team announced Wednesday. The team now has a total of 15 non-roster invitees. 

Added Wednesday to the spring training roster were outfielder/infielder Allen Craig, third baseman Rafael Devers, first baseman Sam Travis, catcher Jordan Procyshen, outfielders Brian Bogusevic and Rusney Castillo, and right-handed pitchers Kyle Kendrick, Chandler Shepherd and Ben Taylor.

In addition to 39 players on the 40-man roster, the Sox have the following breakdown of non-roster invitees: 

Pitchers: Kyle Kendrick, Edgar Olmos, Chandler Shepherd, Ben Taylor, Marcus Walden
 
Catchers: Dan Butler, Jake DePew, Jordan Procyshen
 
Infielders: Rafael Devers, Matt Dominguez, Sam Travis
 
Outfielders: Brian Bogusevic, Rusney Castillo, Allen Craig, Junior Lake