Haggerty: Time for sides to show they care about NHL season

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Haggerty: Time for sides to show they care about NHL season

With everybody and their puck-loving uncle believing that an 82-game NHL regular season hangs in the balance over the next 48 hours, the NHL and NHLPA arent going to meet because they essentially cant agree on who will cater the negotiating session.

Its more complicated than that, obviously, but it doesnt appear either side is taking seriously the Thursday deadline for a Nov. 2 start to the regular season at this point.

The NHLPA held a Tuesday conference call with over 100 players, and concluded that discussion by formally asking to meet with NHL officials on Wednesday as an extension of negotiations. They were rebuffed by NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly, who essentially said theres nothing to discuss after last weeks breakdown in negotiations.

The league put out a straight 5050 offer with the players that included a make whole provision and a slight easement on the contract rights limitations proposed this summer. They also announced it was essentially a take-it-or-leave-it offer with only slight tweaks allowed to the proposal. In the leagues eyes there isnt much ground for discussion if the players arent ready to embrace that deal fully, and the NHL side contends that some hard line owners are displeased with the amount theyve already conceded.

They suggested they were willing to meet. But they also told us they werent interested in the proposal made last Tuesday and that they werent prepared to make their own proposal, said Daly in a statement to reporters. Not sure what we would be meeting about.

Daly's statement elicited a response from NHLPA lead counsel Steve Fehr outlining a group of NHL players looking to talk. This despite the fact there isnt a single actual concession from the owners in their latest proposal, and the NHL players would be in a worse position at every imaginable turn from the last CBA.

Have the 700-plus NHLPA members finally decided to further discuss the make whole provision and perhaps find a way to take deferred payments out of the owners profits rather than the players?

Have the players decided they can live with a small amount of escrow in the five percent neighborhood to help make a 5050 split possible at the start of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement?

Its difficult to tell whats afoot if theres not actual dialogue between the power quartet of Daly, Gary Bettman and the Fehr brothers.

"The league is apparently unwilling to meet, said Steve Fehr in a statement. That is unfortunate as it is hard to make progress without talking."

Thats solid logic from Fehr, of course.

But its also reached the point in these negotiations where nobody can differentiate between the PR spin battle and legitimate attempts to bridge the gap between each side. Theres no trust on either side, and that situation was exacerbated by the NHL owners, presidents and GMs secretly getting into contact with the players during a 48-hour period last week.

Bruins President Cam Neely gave a no comment when asked by CSNNE.com if hed been in contact with Bruins players during that 48-hour amnesty period last week. According to sources within the NHLPA, the union expected the hawk owners to be more proactive in reaching out the players during the lockout amnesty period. Bruins management would clearly qualify under that description.

The league contends there were specific controls in place for the ownerplayer conversations to keep proper good-faith bargaining in place, but its impossible to police those kinds of chats with so much at stake. A much more believable scenario is the NHL was doing its level best to get the players to strike out against Fehrs NHLPA leadership. But that kind of thing -- so common in the past for an NHLPA thats always been in a constant state of fracture -- just isnt going to happen this time around.

The clandestine operations to undermine each other and verbal volleys back and forth have come to characterize these negotiations, and theres real damage being done to the NHLs reputation and the fans' interest.

Thats particularly disappointing when its clear both sides have moved closer to each other in the last week.

The NHL wants a 5050 split of Hockey Related Revenue and the NHLPA wants the league to guarantee the full value of all contracts signed before Sept. 15. Both are fair and reasonable requests. Its impossible to have both, though, without escrow or long-term deferment, however.

Common sense would say that there has to be a creative way to incorporate both to the satisfaction of the owners and the players given the brain power involved with these labor talks.

The NHL and NHLPA are hundreds of millions apart (rather than a billion dollars) after last weeks flurry of proposals, but neither side has indicated a legitimate willingness to budge off their last offers.

Perhaps that wont change in the next 48 hours, and both sides will cry uncle on the possibility of an 82-game season.

But there has to be some greater wiggle room left to save a full 82-game regular season if both the NHL and NHLPA are truly interested in a full hockey campaign that could run through the playoffs until June 30. One NHL player on last week's conference call indicated there's a belief that Nov. 2 isn't a drop dead date, and that a full season could be possible if started a week or two afterward.

Maybe there would be a little flexibility left if one side can finally step forward for the greater good of the game. But that seems an old-time hockey pipe dream right now.

The more likely scenario: Nov. 2 goes by the boards and the NHL and NHLPA agree on a new CBA at some point later in the month of November. That could lead to a shortened NHL season of 60-70 games and picturesque glove save to keep the Red Wings-Maple Leafs Winter Classic intact. MLive.com indicated last week that the NHL wouldnt be forced to cancel the Winter Classic until around November 15-20 because it would need at least that amount of time to prepare for the Jan. 1 outdoor game.

So nobody needs to live in fear the entire NHL season -- and all of its tent-pole events -- will be cancelled if negotiations this week suddenly turn into the final bullet-riddled shootout scene from True Romance.

But it would be nice if both sides decided to show everybody else that they actually care, wouldnt it?

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."