From Comcast SportsNet If canceling opening night and the rest of the NBA calendar for November failed to prove how serious David Stern is about saving his owners money, there's this: The commissioner reportedly fined Miami Heat honcho Micky Arison a cool half-million for a tweet suggesting he wasn't one of the owners willing to sacrifice games to save money. In response to someone who labeled the parties involved in the lockout "greedy ... pigs," Arison tweeted, "Honestly u r barking at the wrong owner." That's a lot more per letter than anyone has ever paid on "Wheel of Fortune." And speaking of game shows, the closest thing to a competition involving an NBA player anywhere on TV came Tuesday when New Orleans Hornets star Chris Paul showed up with his relatives in tow for an episode of "Family Feud." It was a poor substitute for watching the Dallas Mavericks raise last season's championship banner into the rafters before taking on the Chicago Bulls, one of three games originally on the schedule. On the bright side, Robin Paul demonstrated where her son gets some of his fire from. "We all are competitive," she said. "Very, very, very." The same could be said about both sides in the lockout, though at this late juncture they seem just as interested in cannibalizing their own as the other side. Stern's levy on Arison marked the third time he's lightened an owner's pocket for talking out of school about the lockout -- Charlotte's Michael Jordan and Washington's Ted Leonsis had already contributed 100,000 each to league coffers -- but the extra-heavy hit might reflect more than the commissioner's growing impatience with rule breakers. Though Arison later endorsed the league's party line about the tweet being taken out of context, it's clear that his real sin was exposing the owners' less-than-unified stance. Arison paid plenty to bring LeBron James and Chris Bosh to Miami and made plenty in return, not just for his franchise, but everywhere the Heat played last season. Even if the league's claim that 22 teams are losing money is correct, successful teams such as the Heat, Knicks, Lakers and Bulls can't be thrilled with the prospect of losing an entire season of profits to help the poorer franchises squeeze a more favorable deal from the players. But desperate as the fine made Stern look in his bid to hold ownership together, he still has a much easier task at the moment than his counterparts at the union. The 400-plus members of the players association are being tugged in different directions by executive director Billy Hunter and president Derek Fisher. They staked out different positions on the central question in the negotiations -- what percentage of basketball revenues the players will settle for -- and the campaigning behind the scenes has grown uglier by the day. Fisher has been accused of secretly negotiating a deal with Stern to get the players to agree to a 50-50 split in exchange for a cushy job with the league down the road. The rumors grew so loud he was forced to respond to the players in an email, saying, "There have been no side agreements, no side negotiations or anything close." For his part, Hunter has been adamant about the players keeping 52 percent -- a drop from the 57 percent they got in the last agreement -- which would still transfer more than 1 billion back to the owners in any new deal. He walked out of a bargaining meeting last week to dramatize his threat the players won't consider a penny less, but the players' weakening position suggests it was little more than grandstanding. At this point, most insiders and likely even the players themselves know the final deal will get made at 50-50 or not at all. Hunter's intransigence has led to speculation that he's taking a hard line to impress players and hang onto his job as much as he's worried about theirs. If the result is a bad deal -- and whenever it's finalized, it likely will favor the owners -- at the very least it gives him an alibi. There's a growing sense that the players would vote to take the deal at 50-50, since the only other option is to walk away, decertify the union, and take their fight to the courts. That would effectively wipe out the season, which has also led some players to question why the union didn't exercise that option over the summer, when some leverage might have made a difference. Instead, it's the owners doing most of the squeezing. Players will lose 350 million because of the canceled games this month, and the threat of sacrificing another round of games, likely followed by the owners putting an even worse deal on the table, should have the desired effect. Stern holds most of the cards, and all he has to do is hold the owners together for a little longer. Buying that loyalty doesn't always come cheap, but as even Arison would likely concede whenever the deal gets done, it's rarely a bad investment.
FOXBORO - A long, detailed, well-written, behind-the-scenes look at Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels achieves two things.
The article, written for Bleacher Report by longtime NFL reporter Dan Pompei , investigates the growth of McDaniels as a person and coach since his ill-fated run as Denver Broncos head coach. And it serves as a de facto announcement of McDaniels’ suitability and availability as a head coaching candidate after 2016.
McDaniels deserves the recognition and the second chance. Mistakes and miscalculations he made when he was 33 and 34 shouldn’t be a millstone for the rest of his coaching career. If second chances weren’t given to Bill Belichick, Mike Shanahan and Tony Dungy, they wouldn’t have combined for seven Super Bowl wins.
That Pompei got the go-ahead from McDaniels and Belichick to write this story now – complete with in-depth quotes from both of them and Tom Brady about McDaniels’ growth – shouldn’t be dismissed. It’s unusual for a piece like this to emerge in-season.
So why are we seeing it now? What should we infer?
First, that McDaniels – now 40 – wants the record on him updated. He takes a measure of blame for mismanaging the Jay Cutler situation in Denver ("I learned the hard way," he says. "We could have avoided that, no question."), he talks about the importance of delegating and about forging better relationships with players and assistants.
Second, having the record updated won’t hurt when the offseason vacancies emerge and that he’d like to be in the mix.
Third, Belichick speaking to Pompei is ostensibly an endorsement of McDaniels candidacy as well. From that, you can infer that Belichick appreciates McDaniels’ work, is willing to help McDaniels realize McDaniels’ coaching goals, does not have immediate plans to step aside himself (as McDaniels inferred on the radio this week) and probably has a succession plan in place. Brian Daboll, who – McDaniels noted in the story – prepared a third-down scouting report, would be the likely successor.
That anecdote was an interesting one:
Not long ago, Patriots tight ends coach Brian Daboll was assigned to put together a third-down scouting report. Daboll came up with a new way of presenting it. He ran it by McDaniels first. It gave McDaniels pause. In the past, he would have told him to redo it the way that McDaniels was most comfortable. But he knew Daboll felt good about the report and had worked hard on it.
Green light given.
"As much as we are on the same staff, we don't all think the same," McDaniels says. "That's OK. Before, I might have been frustrated with that. Now I feel that's a healthy thing."
Last season, McDaniels passed on interviewing for head-coaching positions. There were options, he just didn’t take any. Part of that, no doubt, had to do with the head coach-front office-ownership stability that seemed to be lacking in many of the opportunities that arose.
This offseason, with former Patriots’ executives Bob Quinn in Detroit and Jon Robinson in Tennessee, the landscape could be more comfortable if those positions open up.
Full disclosure, I think McDaniels is a talented coach and the first three games of 2016 should have teams looking to make a switch on high alert. He deserves and will get his next shot. Pompei’s feature indicates the time is approaching.
BOSTON – It’s not really ever a banner day for any red-blooded, red-light hating goalie when he surrenders four goals in a game.
But perhaps that bottom line is softened a little bit considering when it’s also the first game of the preseason. It may also be drastically mitigated by the fact, in this case, that it was the first time Malcolm Subban guarded the space between the pipes since taking a puck to the throat that fractured his larynx last February.
That traumatic injury left Subban unable to speak for days and gasping for air while being rushed to the hospital for emergency surgery.
It was a tiny victory simply for the Bruins goalie prospect to be back on the ice at all and a much bigger one once Subban had made 31 saves while largely under siege in a 5-1 loss to the Detroit Red Wings at TD Garden on Wednesday night.
The 22-year-old admitted a little rush in net while the Red Wings were buzzing all around him for 35 shots on net through his two periods of work, but there was also happiness at simply being to back and building up for another season in the Bruins organization.
“It was great to finally get back out. Obviously, [I was] really rusty. To be honest, I felt – not so much the goals even, but just shots in general, especially in the first, obviously nerves had a little bit to do with it,” said Subban, who was 14-8-5 with a .911 save percentage and 2.46 goals-against average last season in Providence. “But it was the first time in a long time I could say that I felt not up to speed. I feel like usually I’m overplaying stuff, too fast. But, I felt today like practice is a lot different than a game.
“In the first, I thought I was a little behind the play. That starts to open up holes like my post coverage and stuff. A little rusty there, especially on the third goal, I’ve got to clean that stuff up. Other than that, I thought I played pretty well in terms of straight shots. We practice all that stuff. I’ve just got to keep working on that end. Hopefully, I can move forward and build on that. I think it’s a great game to build off, for sure, for myself and the team.”
The goals allowed showed some on defense, but also some of the rust in their goalie: Subban lost sight of the puck behind the net on the second goal and Steve Ott was able to fire a quick shot past him on the short side before he could recover his bearings.
The third goal was also a post coverage issue with Luke Glendening scoring on a late-reacting Subban, which is usually one of his real strengths. So, there is work to be done, but Subban also shut down a number of breakaways in the second period behind a leaky defense and stopped over 30 pucks before he gave way to young goalie Dan Vladar.
That’s considered more than an honest night’s work in the first preseason appearance for any goaltender, and surely for one playing his first game in seven months.
“I think it was [a good outing for Subban]. He faced some quality scoring chances out there, and the ones that went in probably he’d like to have back, you know,” said Bruins assistant coach Joe Sacco. “But overall, I think when you look at his overall performance for the two periods he played pretty solid for us. He made some big saves, some timely saves and moved well in there. I think for Malcolm, you know, despite the score, I think he had a good night.”
Perhaps most encouraging: the middle Subban brother made a key save at the end of the first period with a puck off his helmet after Detroit had scored twice in a span of 19 seconds.
The stop with Subban’s head gear was probably the best sign of the night that he’s over last year’s traumatic injury and there isn’t going to be any shell-shocked goaltender situation with him.
So, did the injury cross his mind even once during his 40 minutes of work?
“To be honest, no. I owe a lot of credit to my players and these guys on the team in practice and stuff. I really haven’t had to worry about [taking another puck to the throat], getting hit,” said Subban, who now wears a neck guard after eschewing that particular piece of equipment prior to the injury. You’ve got some pretty good shooters in here; pretty accurate shooters. But, yeah, to be honest, I never really thought of [the fractured larynx], it never came across my mind.”
One thing that’s definitely been on Subban’s mind in camp is his contract situation and knowing full well he’s in the last season of his entry-level deal with the Bruins as a former first-round pick. He now has both Anton Khudobin and Tuukka Rask in front of him in the NHL and he’s looking at a fourth straight season in the AHL with the P-Bruins.
It might have been a different story for the talented goalie prospect if he’d finished last season in the same hot streak he was enjoying at the time of his injury. Perhaps he’d be the guy prepping to be Rask’s understudy this season. Instead, the ill-timed larynx injury pushed the Bruins to opt for an established backup in Khudobin and sign him to a two-year deal that could conceivably lock Subban in Providence for a couple more seasons.
So, now Subban is playing for his future, whether it’s with the Bruins, or with another team looking for a young No. 1 goaltending prospect just now entering his prime after refining his technique and going through some character-building adversity.
“I had a hard summer of workouts and skating, so I feel good. I’m not going to hold myself short. I understand that this is my contract year and the last year of my contract, so I’ve got to have a good year regardless of where I am. I’ve just got to play awesome,” said Subban. “Obviously you want to sign again, and you want to be a part of the organization. You want to be a huge part of it and a valued asset.
“So, what I’m looking forward to proving right now is that the last three years helped me, and that I’ve improved since my first year, and that I want to be here [in Boston].”
It will certainly be interesting to see what happens with Subban within the B’s organization over the next season.
The Bruins regime that initially drafted him 24th overall back in 2012 is now gone. Subban still has value to an NHL team, particularly a Canadian one, scouring the market for a blue-chip goalie prospect. The organization is also going to be forced to expose a quality goaltender or two in the Las Vegas franchise expansion draft after this season. That could mean a new work address, or a new spot opened up within the B’s goalie depth chart, for Subban.
All of these could be possibilities for Subban, but it all starts with him pouring everything he’s learned over the past three years and dominating the AHL before he pushes for his first extended look at the highest level of hockey.