Haggerty: Jacobs should be held responsible

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Haggerty: Jacobs should be held responsible

Want to know why the NHL lockout is creeping into its fourth month of existence, why were approaching 80 days of hockey pestilence, hostility and greed?

Heres a story illustrating the self-interested, tyrannical leadership at play on the NHLs side:

Winnipeg Jets representation at a recent NHL Board of Governors meeting piped up to say it was opposed to engaging in a long, bloody lockout sure to stymie their franchises momentum and hurt the game of hockey.

It wasnt Winnipeg owner Mark Chipman, but rather one of the alternate governors representing the Jets.

Bruins Principal Owner and Chairman of the Board of Governors Jeremy Jacobs answered by reprimanding the Winnipeg representative as one of the new kids on the block and informed him that he would know when he was allowed to speak in the NHL board room.

Thats the kind of hawkish, dismissive, bully mentality that's driving the bus for the NHL lockout that's now cancelled games through the middle of December.

Its also the reason why Bruins fans should hold Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs personally responsible.

Jacobs was always a lightning rod for local criticism and cynicism during his close to 40 years owning the Bruins, but the Delaware North baron has deservedly won some goodwill in recent years. He has consistently spent up to the NHL salary cap over the last seven years, and the high point of his ownership came two seasons ago when he oversaw a talented Bruins team that won the Stanley Cup.

But even in the midst of his greatest moment as an NHL owner, Jacobs proved tone deaf. He couldnt help but needle Bruins President Cam Neely during the team's championship parade for never winning his own Cup as a player. It was a cringe-worthy moment on a day that should have featured wall-to-wall grins, and it gave Bruins fans a chance to remember why they held Jacobs in contempt for so long.

Those strange few seconds on that June day put on display the out-of-touch attitude that has helped the NHL become mired in another lengthy work stoppage for the second time in less than a decade.

The NHLPA members and hockey fans alike are waylaying NHL commissioner Gary Bettman for instituting the work stoppage. But at the end of the day Bettman is simply the messenger for the 30 NHL owners. Jacobs and his fellow owners are the reason the NHL cant function without a war between every new Collective Bargaining Agreement. They are the reason hockey is a mismanaged mess.

When Patriots owner Robert Kraft helped broker an NFL labor deal before regular season games were affected, it appeared as though his love for the game of football and his concern for NFL fans played a role. There is no love of hockey coming from the end chair at NHL Board of Governors meetings. Instead there are quarterly reports, profit margins and calculated formulas telling NHL owners when it makes the most fiscal sense to open the doors to the regular season.

Nothing else matters. Not the fans, the players, the arena employees and those local businesses depending on the 800,000 to 1 million that each Bruins game pumps into the Boston economy.

If the NHL lockout is going to end as soon as Dec. 5 at the NHL Board of Governors meeting, then its going to take other hockey-loving hockey owners to overthrow the stone, cold businessmen in the room.

The biggest question of the lockout is, why would a frugal, shrewd businessman like Jacobs seemingly do his own team a disservice by prolonging the lockout? The Bruins have the most money committed in player salaries over the next two seasons, and would be severely affected by a sudden drop in the salary cap. Even if NHL teams are given a one-year transition period to adjust to a plummeting salary cap, the Bruins will be bumping the cap ceiling in 2013-14 without a single proven NHL goaltender signed on for duty.

Thats a horrendous position for Jacobs to leave his franchise when the Bruins have relied so prominently on defense and goaltending for success. But it doesnt seem to matter a whit to the Bruins owner as he bangs the drum for a lowered salary cap, draconian contract restrictions, and a stodgy desire to turn the NHL clock back at least 30 years.

Because Jacobs is a multi-billionaire used to winning and hearing exactly what he wants to hear at all times. During the 2004-005 lockout Jacobs and the Bruins were in a position of influence within the Board of Governors, but approached it with a horrendously flawed game plan.

The Bruins expected a wide open sellers market for free agents coming out of that lockout, and famously allowed Mike Knuble, Brian Rolston, Sergei Gonchar and Michael Nylander among others to walk away from Boston. Jacobs never saw the 24 percent salary rollback coming from the NHLPA, and suddenly teams received tremendous discounts for all contracts signed prior to the work stoppage.

Instead of NHL free agent superstars lining up to play in Boston, the Bruins botched things further by inking glue factory FAs like Brian Leetch and Alex Zhamnov.

The Bruins franchise bottomed out in the two years coming out of the 2004-05 lockout with a glorified expansion team roster, traded away Joe Thornton for a pittance and then cleaned house within the Bs front office before a slow rise to the top under GM Peter Chiarelli and President Cam Neely.

Jacobs turned out to be a giant loser coming out of the last lockout, and now his Buffalo-sized ego is looking for a dramatic, one-sided win against the players coming out of this seasons work stoppage. That one-way, ends-justify-the-means mentality is exactly whats driving the NHL owners this time around.

But the players have already waived the white flag. They've offered the owners the 5050 revenue split for which they were hoping, and the NHLPA moderates are ready to further discuss terms of a truce if Bettman and the NHL owners are willing to throw an olive branch or two the players way.

"We want to play," Bruins forward Shawn Thornton said recently. "But there hasnt been one bone thrown our way by the owners to where guys would say if it went to a vote right now we could live with it. There are things that have to be addressed.

If there were a couple of bones thrown in there then thered be enough moderates to voice their opinions to Don Fehr. But it hasnt been that way at all. We keep giving and the owners keep saying Thanks . . . what else have you guys got? Until that changes, nothing about the lockout is going to change."

The players arent responding kindly to being bullied by board room brutes like Jacobs, but theres little they can do about it if they want to get back on the ice. The only people that speak the kind of voice that Jacobs and Co. will understand is the ticket-purchasing public.

Bruins fans can show their disapproval of the Jacobs-led NHL lockout by canceling season tickets, switching to the AHL or college hockey instead of the local NHL product, or simply changing the channel when the games come back. For business mavens like Jacobs, that is the only language they understand.

But thats not an easy task so what else could fans do?

Jacobs owns the TD Garden so they could skip the circus, swear off concerts at the Garden, and even victimize the Celtics as innocent bystanders in the House that Jacobs Built.

Its probably not realistic, but its something to think about as those that love the NHL try to come up with a way to clearly illustrate to Jacobs, Bettman and Co. that two lengthy work stoppages in eight years is simply unacceptable. The NHL has taken its customers for granted far too often in recent years, and there should be a lesson learned for those league fathers that allowed this to happen on their watch.

Blakely: Tatum's character separates him from many of the other rookies

Blakely: Tatum's character separates him from many of the other rookies

BOSTON – With his new head coach Brad Stevens and Boston Celtics ownership and front office officials surrounding him, Jayson Tatum’s mind seemed to be somewhere else briefly.

He looked ahead, way, way ahead to the other end of the Celtics’ practice court where there were banners, lots of banners, raised high above all else in the gym.

This wasn’t just a passing glance, either.

TATUM SPEAKS

It was clear that the newest Celtic was in deep thought as he stared at the 17 banners and the one left blank, a steady reminder of what this franchise is about, past and present.

Yes, it’s a lot to soak in for anyone let alone a 19-year-old kid whose career with the Celtics can be timed on a stopwatch.

But the soft-spoken 6-foot-9 forward has been here long enough to understand that success around here is about more than playing well; it’s playing to win a championship.

And that in many ways separates Tatum from his teenage brethren who made up the majority of Thursday night’s NBA draft which included an NBA-record 17 players taken in the first round who like Tatum, were just one year removed from high school.

All come into the NBA with lots to learn, as well as goals and aspirations for this upcoming NBA season.

During an interview with CSN on Friday, I asked Tatum about what in his mind would make for a successful season.

And his answer initially was to ask me a question, “Individual or team?”

So I replied, either one.

“To get back to where they were last year and get over that hump,” he said. “Championships, chasing that number 18, that would be the ultimate success for me.”

That served as a reminder as to why despite having a handful of players under consideration at No. 3, the Celtics did the right thing in selecting Tatum.

His words may seem like the politically correct response, but take a look at the kid’s basketball resume and you’ll quickly see he is indeed about winning and doing so in whatever way possible.

After missing his first eight games at Duke with a foot injury, Tatum gradually improved as the season progressed and wound up on the all-rookie team as well as being named to the All-ACC third team.

Once the Blue Devils got to the ACC Tournament, Tatum became a different, better, more dominant player.

Indeed, Tatum led the Blue Devils to their first ACC championship since 2011 and did so in historic fashion as the Blue Devils became the first ACC school to win the conference tournament with four wins in four days.

Late in the title game against Notre Dame, Tatum put together a sequence of plays that speaks to why the Celtics were seriously considering taking him with the number one overall pick had they not been able to trade it for the No. 3 and a future first-round pick.

With the scored tied at 65, Tatum made a free throw that put Duke ahead.

Moments later, he blocked a shot and finished off the play with a lay-up that gave Duke a three-point lead.

After a Notre Dame basket, Tatum connected with a teammate for a 3-pointer that pushed Duke’s lead to four points with around a minute to play.

And then there was the 3-point play Tatum converted after getting fouled on a dunk which secured a 76-69 Duke win over the Fighting Irish.

Free throws. Blocks. Getting out in transition. Passing.

When his team needed him most, he gave whatever was required at that moment which is one of the intangibles that makes Boston feel good about his future.

“He does whatever he has to do to help you win,” said an NBA scout who said he has seen Tatum play “at least a dozen times.”

He added, “Like all of these kids coming into the league now, he has some things he has to get better at, get more consistent with. But he makes winning plays, whether it’s for himself or others. He’s a lot more unselfish a player than he’s given credit for being.”

And he’s 19 years old, which is both a blessing and a burden when you’re an NBA team executive charged with committing at least two years and millions of dollars into a young man.

Part of the process when making a draft choice, especially when it’s one of the top picks, is character evaluation.

Of the players at or near the top of the draft board, multiple league executives contacted by CSNNE.com in the past couple of weeks said this was an area where Tatum stood out in comparison to all of the top prospects.

“He’s the kind of young man you’d love whether he was a basketball player or not,” one Western Conference executive told CSNNE.com. “If you’re ranking guys on character alone in this draft, he’s your number one pick.”

Danny Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations, acknowledged the challenge of differentiating between miscues made by a teenager as being problems of concern going forward, or whether that’s a teenager making the kind of bad/questionable decisions most teens make.

“It’s dangerous to play too much into a 19-year-old kid’s behavior,” Ainge told CSN’s A. Sherrod Blakely and Kyle Draper on Friday. “But I think that, with all the things we do, from physical, emotional, mental, character, work ethic and their skills … it’s just really hard at 19. You hate to just be labeled what you are at 18.”

But in regards to Tatum specifically, Ainge added, “Jayson is a high character guy. We know he will get better because of his character and his work ethic.”

Said Tatum: “It’s a great feeling. Being part of a great organization like the Celtics; think of all the great players of the past and you can follow in their footsteps.”

And in doing so, blaze a trail of his own in the pursuit of Banner 18.

David Price improves command, indicates he's pitching through ailment

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David Price improves command, indicates he's pitching through ailment

BOSTON — David Price and Rick Porcello showed improvement on back-to-back nights Friday and Saturday, important signs for the Red Sox after a difficult month for both pitchers prior to this homestand.

Price on Saturday night went six innings and allowed three runs, two earned, in a 6-3 loss to the Angels. He fanned five and his velocity has been consistently better this year than last year.

But the most important number was his walk total: one. He walked three batters in his previous start, and four in both of his starts prior.

“Two outings ago, the first start here in Fenway,” Sox manager John Farrell said. “There was better timing in his delivery and overall better separation over the rubber. And he carried that through I thought, even though there's a higher pitch count in Houston, and has been able to maintain it here. I can't say there was one specific thing. It's been more the timing over the rubber. And you're seeing him pitch out of the stretch exclusively. Just less moving parts in a better position to repeat it.”

After Price’s final inning, the telecast captured Price calling pitching coach Carl Willis into the tunnel. Neither Farrell nor Price detailed the conversation. 

“Yeah, everything was fine,” Farrell said of the conversation. “Everything is OK there.”

Price made it sound like he’s dealing with some sort of physical ailment, but was vague.

“There's a lot of stuff going on right now,” the pitcher said when asked about the desire to stay out there. “You don't want it to linger into the next start, or two or three weeks from now, and that's why we did what we did.”

Asked to elaborate, Price reinforced that the decision was to save his body for another day.

“You never want to come out of a game. But you have to look forward at the time,” Price said. “You don’t want today to cost you your next start or you know, the start after that. So that’s what happened.

“It has nothing to do with my elbow or anything like that. This is — you get past one thing and there’s another So that’s what it is.”

Price in New York in early June felt a blister develop on his ring finger. He missed an in-between start bullpen because of it.

Asked about the blister Saturday, Price said, “That one’s gone.”

Farrell indicated the blister was diminished, if not entirely gone.

“He's been dealing with that,” Farrell said. “I think while it's still present and maybe not as severe as it was when it first happened, I'm sure he's going to check on it occasionally."