'Good vibe' to NHL playerowner meetings in NYC

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'Good vibe' to NHL playerowner meetings in NYC

The reports of an end to the lockout at the beginning of this week got hockey fans excited, and both NHL owners and players are doing their part to keep the momentum moving forward.

With NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA Executive Director Donald Fehr both absent from the proceedings, the players and owners met in two separate sessions at the Westin in New York City that lasted about eight hours. According to a source with knowledge of the discussions, Pittsburgh Penguins co-owner Ron Burkle has been a key figure in the meetings while attempting to bridge the considerable gap between the two sides.

There seems to be a good vibe to the meetings, said one NHL player, who was not present at the meetings. Lets just hope that it continues.

A group of 18 NHL players and six NHL owners including principal owners from the Bruins, Lightning, Penguins, Jets, Flames and Maple Leafs sat down for the meetings that skeptics saw as a PR stunt orchestrated by the league, but in reality became a place where the two sides appeared to gain some traction.

There appears to be some effort being made by both the players and the owners to get a CBA completed prior to Wednesdays Board of Governors meeting, so that the full group of NHL owners can potentially ratify something this week. If that were to be the case perhaps the NHL could start the regular season as soon as Dec. 15 when it appeared just as likely the entire season could be cancelled if there wasnt a drastic change in talks.

More likely the two sides will continue to bridge the gap, and move toward an agreement over the next few weeks with a possible start at the beginning of January. Whether the season starts in 10 days or three weeks, that's good news provided the progress continues.

NHLPA special counsel Steve Fehr and Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly addressed the media together shortly after midnight -- the first time that has happened in negotiations. Daly said "I think everybody wants to get a deal done, which is encouraging" while crediting the players. Fehr said "it might be the best day we've had so far, but still a lot of work to be done."

According to Pittsburgh Tribune-Review NHL reporter Rob Rossi, Burkle, co-owner Mario Lemieux and superstar Sidney Crosby had begun hatching a plan over the last week to bring all sides together to end the acrimonious lockout.

Two sides began the day far apart on player contract rights, "make whole" money and other key elements to the deal, and it remains to be seen how much closer they've come to getting a deal done.

Blakely: Celtics made the right choice in not pursuing Cousins

Blakely: Celtics made the right choice in not pursuing Cousins

NEW ORLEANS -- There will be a significant faction of Celtics Nation who will see DeMarcus Cousins’ trade to New Orleans as a lost opportunity for the C's, who could have offered a much more enticing trade package than the one the Sacramento Kings accepted.
 
The Kings received nothing even remotely close to a king’s ransom for Cousins, acquiring him in exchange for rookie Buddy Hield, journeyman Langston Galloway and ex-Pelican Tyreke Evans (who has never been the same since his Rookie of the Year season in 2010), along with a protected first-round pick and a future second-round selection.

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While the knee-jerk reaction is to focus on why Boston decided to not pursue a trade for Cousins, more important is what the non-decision means for the moment and going forward.
 
Think about what the Celtics have done in the last three-plus seasons.
 
They went from being a lottery team to one that has the second-best record in the East. They're holding the potential No. 1 overall pick in the upcoming draft; at worst, the pick will be in the top four or five. They have three of the most team-friendly contracts (Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley and Jae Crowder) in the NBA. They have promising prospects overseas as well as in the D-League. And they're led by a coach who has improved his coaching acumen -- and the team’s win total -- every year he's been on the job.
 
And it's all enveloped by a culture with a high level of selflessness, which has created a locker-room environment that has been more about fighting for each other than fighting one another or others off the court.
 
Do you really think Cousins’ talent would have trumped the baggage he'd be bringing to the Celtics if they'd acquired him?
 
For him to have fit in with this team would have required him to make the kind of changes that, frankly, I just don’t see him being capable of making at this point.
 
On more than one occasion, “not fitting in” with the Celtics culture was given to me as the reason why a Cousins-to-Boston trade never gained any traction with the team’s brass. Or coaching staff, for that matter.
 
While there's no denying that he's arguably the best center in the NBA, Cousins is a high-risk, high-reward talent that makes sense to pursue if you're a franchise which has nothing to lose by adding him to the mix. Like, say, New Orleans.
 
The Pelicans are 11th in the Western Conference despite having Anthony Davis, who has been asked to carry the weight of a franchise that has yet to figure out the best combination of talent to surround him with and find success.
 
The addition of Cousins not only provides Davis some major help, but serves as a reminder of just how desperate the Pelicans are.
 
While there are mixed reports on whether the package of assets the Kings agreed to was the best they could have received for Cousins, there was no way they were going to get anything close to comparable talent in exchange for him.
 
And that was solely due to the risk that any team was willing to take on in order to acquire him.
 
At some point, the Celtics need to take advantage of an opportunity to go all-in for a superstar player. But this was not that time, or that player.