Ference in New York for NHL CBA discussions

717758.jpg

Ference in New York for NHL CBA discussions

Andrew Ference has always been a strong voice when it comes to NHLPA issues, and things concerning players in the NHL workplace. Because of his passion, the Bruins defenseman has found himself in the middle of some hot button events and conversations over the last few years. But it also means Ference is a welcomed players voice of reason when it comes to things like the NHL lockout.

So its a very good thing the 33-year-old Ference has been present in New York City for the last two days of face-to-face negotiations with the NHL as part of the NHLPAs negotiating committee. Ference was also present for discussions at the very beginning of the lockout in September, but had been in the Czech Republic playing hockey for the bulk of the last three months.

Ferences stint in Europe ended right around Christmas, and the Bs defenseman has been back on the East Coast for the last week. He even skated with the Noble and Greenough hockey team several days ago according to his twitter account, and took the short commute to New York City for a pivotal round of CBA negotiations. Joining Ference among the NHL players at the negotiating table are: Craig Adams, Brad Boyes, Chris Campoli, Mathieu Darche, Rich DiPietro, Shane Doan, Ron Hainsey, Jamal Mayers, George Parros, Marty St. Louis and Kevin Westgarth.

Thats a nice mix of superstars, blue collar players and veterans that have the respect of the entire NHLPA membership. NHLPA and NHL officials are meeting for a second straight day after trading CBA offers prior to a midnight deadline for the players association to decide if theyre willing to go through with a disclaimer of interest to potentially dissolve the union. That would potentially lead to the players filing anti-trust lawsuits against the NHL, and thats a path that neither side really wants to walk down if at all possible.

Meanwhile both sides have closed the gap on a number of issues, and are still in discussions on significant issues like pension and cap numbers in subsequent seasons before they can sign off on a workable CBA document. The two sides are getting closer and working toward a hopeful Jan. 19 start to the NHL season that would yield a 48-game shortened regular season.

Danny Ainge says Lonzo Ball has declined pre-draft workout with Celtics

Danny Ainge says Lonzo Ball has declined pre-draft workout with Celtics

BOSTON -- Like most NBA executives, Danny Ainge loves to get as much intel on players before picking them as he can.  
 
And with the No. 1 overall pick, Ainge knows he has to do all he can to absolutely get this one right.
 
That’s why any thoughts he had of drafting Lonzo Ball are likely out the window after the talented UCLA guard refused to work out for the Celtics.
 
“We tried to get him in for a workout and he politely said no,” Danny Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations, said on 98.5 the Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich show.
 
Lonzo Ball’s desire (or his dad Lavar Ball’s desire; hard to say who in the Ball camp wants him in L.A. the most) to play for the Los Angeles Lakers is one of the worst-kept secrets leading up to next month’s NBA draft.
 
And with the Lakers holding the No. 2 pick in the draft, turning down the Celtics only increases the likelihood of  Boston passing on him and instead drafting University of Washington star Markelle Fultz.
 
“It’s not ideal,” Ainge said of Ball's decision to decline working out for Boston. “Listen, we’ve drafted guys that wouldn’t come in for workouts before. It’s not the end of the world. We’ve watched them play a ton. We have a lot of information on them. Sometimes players don’t want to come in, not because they don’t like you, they see our roster. They think they would prefer to go to another team.”
 
The Celtics, like most teams, have been mum publicly as to who they would take in the draft. But all indications at this point in the process are pointing towards them selecting Fultz with the top overall selection.
 
And the fact that Ball, the projected number two pick even before the draft lottery order was established, refuses to work out for Boston will only increase the likelihood that Fultz will be a Celtic and Ball and his camp will get their wish which has always been to don a Los Angeles Lakers jersey.

Celtics-Cavaliers preview: Game 5 is about respect for Boston

Celtics-Cavaliers preview: Game 5 is about respect for Boston

BOSTON – From the outset of this season, the Boston Celtics were swimming upstream when it came to getting respect. 

No matter how many wins they racked up, no matter how many upsets they managed to pull off, they were never going to do enough to satisfy the court of public opinion which wanted one thing and one thing only from the NBA: A third installment of Golden State against Cleveland in the NBA Finals. 

The Warriors did their part by running through the West with 12 wins in as many playoff games. 

Meanwhile, the Celtics will try to not just stave off elimination tonight, but continue to delay what so many believe is an inevitable Golden State-Cleveland Final.

Boston’s Al Horford understands that while the league this season has seen lots of individual success as well as teams that have overachieved, the thirst for Golden State versus Cleveland remains stronger than ever. 

“We understand that’s what everyone has been talking about since the beginning of the season,” Horford said. “For us it’s just to focus … and play the Celtic way. And just come out here and fight and we’ll take it from there.”

The Celtics did that in Game 3 with Avery Bradley delivering one of the more memorable shots in the Brad Stevens era, a game-winning three-pointer that hit the rim four times before falling with 0.1 seconds to play as Boston squeaked out a 111-108 win.

Boston did a lot of good things in Game 4 and seemingly went into the half sensing that maybe just maybe they would even up the series at two games heading back to Boston for tonight’s Game 5 matchup. 

But Kyrie Irving picked up the slack for a foul-plagued LeBron James, lifting the Cavaliers to a 112-99 win which puts them now just a win away from advancing to the NBA Finals. 

Not only have folks both in the media as well as fans who have rooted for this series to be over, even merchandise sellers like Dick Sporting Goods have anticipated this series as already being over.

“It is what it is,” said Boston’s Jae Crowder. “It’s been like that all year; a lot of guys counting us out. At the same time, we’re trying to put ourselves in position to win each and every game.”

While that has been the goal, it certainly hasn’t worked out that way in this series. 

Despite Games 1 and 2 being at the TD Garden, the Celtics lost both games by a total of 57 points. 

And while they won Game 3 and had the Cavaliers on the ropes in Game 4 before losing, they know their chance to play NBA Finals spoiler is just about up. 

“We know that’s the Finals that everybody wants to talk about, what everybody is looking forward to,” said Boston’s Marcus Smart. “We understand it. But we work just as hard as these guys. We just have to keep going out there and working. We’re not going to give it to them, and stuff like that. We just have to make it tough on them.”