Haggerty: Where does the NHL go from here?

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Haggerty: Where does the NHL go from here?

Everybody had to know Gary Bettman and Jeremy Jacobs werent going to burst out into cartwheels no matter how good the offer was from the NHLPA Wednesday.
Spontaneous song or hilarious Montgomery BurnsSmithers comedy act skits? Possibly.
But cartwheels? No way and no how.
The players made significant movement toward the NHL with a six-page offer that went away from a set monetary figure for next seasons revenue, and instead aimed toward the leagues request of a set percentage of Hockey Related Revenue (HRR) along with a raise in make whole money.
"There was movement from the players association on some issues, which was appreciated," said Bettman. "There was some movement by us. Hopefully there will be some momentum from todays session that we can build off of."
So the NHL should have been satisfied with the movement, but instead they acted like one of the NHLPA contingent clogged up their toilets during the Wednesday visit to the league offices.
The NHL had previously offered 211 million in make whole deferment money to guarantee the player contracts already signed, and the NHLPA asked for an additional 182 million to that kitty over the course of the CBAs first four years.
In essence you could say the two sides sit 182 million apart along with a bevy of player contract rights they also still dont see eye-to-eye on. To put the 182 million into perspective: it amounts to little more than a million dollars per team, per year over the course of a five-year contract.
Thats chump change in the world of professional sports. It also makes it all the more insulting to the fans that the league simply rejected the players proposal rather than making an effort to work off the numbers.
Unsurprisingly, the players moved toward the league on a number of fronts, and the NHL did almost nothing to meet the players in the spacious middle. Instead the NHL pushed entry level contracts back to the three years as they existed in the previous CBA from a two-year proposal. In their infinite wisdom, the NHL also went to the extent of pushing the players arbitration eligibility back one season.
In essence, the NHLPA gave in to the players on some important areas that put the two parties within shouting distance of each other. But it didnt matter to an almighty Board of Governors thats expected to whack all regular season games until Dec. 15 and the NHL All-Star game by the end of this week. Hows that for a nice holiday surprise to the businesses of Columbus, Ohio that expected a nice business boom at the end of January?
Maybe the Blue Jackets' owners should have checked the fine print on this years NHL blueprint for the CBA.
So where do the NHL and NHLPA go from here with Fehr at his bemused breaking point on Wednesday and Bettman overflowing with smugness as he conversed with an angry Flyers fan during his post-meeting press conference?  
Both sides are expected to hold discussions on Friday about where to go from here, and one would hope that means a counter-offer from the NHL bringing them closer together. Instead, the league continues to sound the alarm that theyve already released their best offer, and that circumstances will only get worse for the players as the NHL hemorrhages 18-20 million per day. Its also not helping that NHL sponsors like Kraft and Molson are either asking for refunds, or simply walking away to spend their money elsewhere.
The New York Post is reporting the NHL Board of Governors will sit down for a Dec. 5 meeting, and its difficult to glean whether thats a positive or negative development for the 2012-13 season.
The NHLPA has its share of frustration as well. They finally had their first union member go broken arrow when defenseman Roman Hamrlik angrily mentioned getting rid of Fehr if the season is cancelled. Hamrliks lockout rant doesnt speak for many players, but it was only a matter of time before one of the voices struck out against the rest of the players singing in harmony.
The mention of potentially decertifying the union was first brought up in a conference call earlier this week, and could become a possibility if the NHLPA gets desperate for leverage. The NBA and their players union were going through a similar impasse last season when the basketball players got serious about breaking up their union, and lo and behold the NBA regular season began a few weeks later.
The decertification process allows the players to file anti-trust lawsuits against the league and even sue for damages in some instances, so its a tangled web the NHL probably doesnt want to delve into too deeply. But it might also give the NHLPA a chance to crumble the leagues salary cap structure once decertification takes place. That kind of action would mean a certifiable World War III with NHL owners that have built their business model around the salary cap.
But it would also mean players have some leverage they dont currently enjoy as Bettman lightly pats them on the head after watching the NHLPA stretch toward the league in negotiations. As stated previously at this address, the players already know theyre going to lose this head-to-head battle with the NHL. Theyre already feeling the urgency to return to work before the game they loved is wrecked beyond belief by the ugly business side of the league.
Unfortunately, the NHL appears to have a date in mind when theyd like to return, and that date will mean a couple of things have happened: the league can still play a maximum number of games played in the 60 range combined with five or more paycheck cycles missed that out-of-work players will never see again.
In the end, the owners will have lopped off the least profitable months of the season while still getting things into gear when the NHL historically tends to take off around Christmas.
Thats the theory, anyway.
Bettmans abhorrence for the NHLPAs gamesmanship and the leagues unwashed arrogance toward the players could always push the entire league over the cliff, and force them to miss another season.
But that moment is still more than a month away, and theyd have to be foolish enough to blow through deadlines on Dec. 15 and January 1. It could still happen, but its difficult to see the NHL unable to field some manner of shortened regular season given the middle ground both sides are dealing with.
Thats a little NHL silver lining on a day that turned out much worse than most had hoped or anticipated it would. At least we have that to be thankful for.

Carson Smith 'had to take a step back' in recovery from Tommy John

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Carson Smith 'had to take a step back' in recovery from Tommy John

Neither set-up man the Red Sox traded for under president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski, Tyler Thornburg and Carson Smith, is throwing off a mound presently.

Smith, on his way back from Tommy John surgery, felt soreness after throwing a bullpen session and is back to doing long toss. 

"He’s had to slow down," Sox manager John Farrell said Thursday. "Once he got on the mound with some aggression and good intensity, was throwing the ball well. And as a result there’s been some soreness that has kind of reared its head. So have had to back him off, back into long toss, he’s thrown out to about 110 feet here today. We’re hopeful that in the very near future that mound progression resumes.

"The unique thing about Tommy John recovery is that every situation is going to be different. In this case, we’ve had to take a step back a little bit and get back to flat ground."

Smith is in Boston as part of a previously scheduled meet-up with the team, Farrell said. When the season began, Smith was rehabbing in Florida. He was put on the 60-day disabled list on Thursday, a formality that opened up a 40-man roster spot for new acquisition Chase d'Arnaud.

Smith was put on the disabled list on April 3, so he can return June 2 at the earliest, but may now need more time.

Thornburg (right shoulder impingement) is building up his long-toss distance.

In other injury news, Brock Holt (vertigo) may begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A Pawtucket on Friday or Saturday, Farrell said.

Despite series lead, Celtics lament their inability to hit open shots

Despite series lead, Celtics lament their inability to hit open shots

BOSTON – There are many factors you can point to in the regular season as indicators of what may happen when two NBA  teams meet in the playoffs.

You don't have to be inside the Chicago Bulls' locker room to know that when it comes to the Celtics, they were fully prepared to face a team that took a lot of 3's but wasn’t necessarily shooting them at a high percentage. 
 
That reality has certainly come into focus in Boston’s first-round series against the Chicago, one the C’s lead 3-2 as they continue to try and 3-point shoot their way on to the next round – without giving a damn how many long-range shots it takes to get the job done. 

In five playoff games, Boston is shooting 45.3 percent from the field, which puts them in the middle of the pack (eighth overall) among the 16 teams that qualified for the postseason.
 
But when it comes to the long ball, they are on the back-nine of playoff teams, ranking 10th while shooting 32.4 percent from 3-point range while leading all postseason clubs with 38.7 3-point attempts per game.

In the regular season, the Celtics ranked 16th in field-goal percentage (.454) and 14th in 3-point shooting (35.9 percent) while attempting 33.4 3's per game, which trailed only Houston (40.3) and Cleveland (33.9) this season.  

Boston's shooting from the field mirrors what it did in the regular season, but they know all too well that their shooting percentage in this series should be much higher due to the high number of open shots they have missed. 
 
Take a look at Game 5.
 
In the 108-97 win, the Celtics shot an impressive 53.1 percent when their shots were contested.
 
But let the Bulls have a defensive breakdown like a failed switch, or a guy gets beat for what turns into a great opportunity for Boston to score with no resistance, and instead of burying the open shot, the Celtics have  consistently blown those opportunities. That’s evident by the C’s connecting on just 30.8 percent (12-for-39) of their uncontested field-goal attempts in Game 5.
 
Even the usually reliable Isaiah Thomas had issues making uncontested shots in Game 5 and this series as a whole.
 
He had 24 points and shared game-high scoring honors with Avery Bradley on Wednesday night, but Thomas probably should have led everyone outright in scoring when you consider he had five open shots and wound up missing four of them.
 
That’s why when it comes to Boston’s offense, the last thing Thomas or any of his teammates complains about is getting the shots they want.
 
“I’ve been getting good open looks,” he said. “My teammates have been getting me open. We just got to knock down the shots. Coach [Stevens] keeps saying one day soon we’re going to knock down the open shots that we are missing and it might be [Game 6].”