From Comcast SportsNetThe NHL appears headed toward a 48-game season for the second time in two decades."I think 48 is most likely at this point, unless the players can expedite their ratification process," NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly wrote in an email Monday to The Associated Press.The NHL shortened its 82-game slate to 48 games for the 1994-95 season after a 103-day lockout. A 301-day lockout in 2004-05 made the NHL the first major North American professional sports league to lose an entire season.When the framework of a new collective bargaining agreement was agreed to Sunday morning -- after 16 hours of negotiations -- there was some talk of having a 50-game season start later this month.The NHL and the players' association are working on a memorandum of understanding, which could be completed soon, then voted on by owners and players. The league has circulated a memo to teams telling them to be ready to play by Jan. 19, the date the shortened season is expected to start."As we prepare for the season opener, I want to apologize to all Blues fans, especially our season ticket holders, suite holders, and sponsors," St. Louis Blues owner Tom Stillman said in a statement released by the team. "We share in your disappointment and frustration about the lockout."Los Angeles Kings forward Kevin Westgarth, who was part of the union negotiating team for much of the long work stoppage, expects the NHLPA to conduct a conference call to explain and answer questions about the new CBA before players vote on it online."Of course the league will say if the players hurry up, we can play more games, but there's a reality to consider as well," Westgarth said in a telephone interview Monday from Raleigh, N.C., where he skated informally with some Carolina Hurricanes. "But the first step is for the people who are good with words to get on paper what both sides agreed to."Then, we have to get guys -- who are scattered all over the world -- to understand the agreement before we can start voting."Some NHL players -- including Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin -- went overseas during the lockout. Ovechkin, who played for his hometown Dynamo Moscow in the Kontinental Hockey League, was welcomed back to Washington by the Capitals, who posted a picture of him on their Twitter account arriving at a local airport.Players -- teammates and opponents -- who stayed in North America have been getting together for months to skate, conduct on-ice drills and work out on their own to stay in relatively good shape.Penguins star Sidney Crosby and nearly a dozen teammates worked out at a suburban Pittsburgh ice rink Monday.For a change, Crosby and the rest of the NHL players knew games will be played after negotiators for both sides -- and an outside mediator -- found a way to revive a sport desperate to regain momentum and boost its prominence.The league and the union agreed to the framework of a 10-year labor contract, ending a bitter dispute that wiped out a large part of the hockey season for the third time in less than two decades. On the 113th day of the lockout and five days before the league's deadline for a deal, the bleary-eyed sides held a 6 a.m. Sunday news conference to announce there would be a season after all.The lockout could wipe out perhaps 1 billion in revenue this season because about 40 percent of the regular-season schedule won't be played.The NHL's revenue of 3.3 billion last season lagged well behind the NFL (9 billion), Major League Baseball (7.5 billion) and the NBA (5 billion). The new deal will lower the players' percentage from 57 to 50 after owners originally had proposed the players get 46 percent.This was the third lockout among the major U.S. sports in a period of just over a year. A four-month NFL lockout ended in July 2011 with the loss of only one exhibition game, and an NBA lockout caused each team's schedule to be cut from 82 games to 66 last season.
BOSTON – You hear coaches and players often refer to the NBA as a make-miss league.
When summing up what happened in Boston’s 114-98 loss to the Atlanta Hawks, sadly it was that simple.
Dennis Schroder led the six double-figure scorers for the Hawks with 21 points on 9-for-14 shooting.
Boston got many of the shots that they have been getting throughout this run in which they came into Monday’s game having won 11 of their previous 14 games.
The Celtics (38-22) have now lost three of their last four games. Life won’t get any easier for them with defending NBA champion Cleveland coming into town on Wednesday.
We have seen the Celtics make some miraculous comebacks under fourth-year coach Brad Stevens, but Celtics fans understandably began hitting the exits with more than three minutes to play and Boston looking up at a 108-84 deficit.
Credit the Hawks defense which played with a greater sense of urgency, the kind you would expect from a team that had come in riding a three-game losing streak.
Meanwhile, Boston looked like the team that we have seen most of this season which relies heavily on their perimeter shooting to win games.
That’s not all that surprising against the Hawks whose interior defense is anchored by Dwight Howard.
Howard, who had 17 points and 12 rebounds, also had a pair of blocked shots and altered many others.
But the Celtics spent a good chunk of the second half with Howard out of the game.
Howard, an absolute unstoppable force for the Hawks all game, picked up his second technical foul (an automatic ejection) for hanging on the rim following a put-back dunk with 4:03 to play in the third and Atlanta ahead 74-65.
He had picked up his first technical foul for shoving Al Horford earlier in the game.
But with Howard out, the Celtics still couldn’t take advantage of an Atlanta team that was much more vulnerable to dribble-drive penetration.
In fact, Atlanta began to pull away and took their biggest lead up to that point of the game, 84-69, following a 3-pointer by Tim Hardaway Jr. late in the third quarter which ended with the Hawks ahead 84-71.
And Boston’s struggles stemmed from their inability to make open shots.
For the game, the Celtics shot 39.1 percent from field which is a somewhat inflated figure considering the mini-run Boston's backups went on in the final minute or two of play.
Not even the usual high-scoring exploits of Isaiah Thomas could save the day.
The NBA’s leading scorer in the fourth quarter, Thomas had another sub-par night in the game’s final quarter of play.
He led the Celtics with 19 points, but only two came in the fourth quarter. And by failing to reach 20 points, Thomas’ franchise-record of consecutive games with 20 or more comes to an end at 43 straight.
The Kevin Shattenkirk-to-Bruins rumblings are done for the remainder of the season.
Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Dispatch is reporting that the Blues have traded defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk to the Washington Capitals.
According to TSN’s Pierre LeBrun, the “main parts” the Blues will receive in the deal are 2017 first-rounder, a second-rounder in 2018 and Zach Sanford
More to come. . .