Is it time to give up on a full NHL season?

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Is it time to give up on a full NHL season?

From Comcast SportsNetNEW YORK (AP) -- The little hope that existed for a full NHL season appears to be gone.Shortly after the players' reached out to the league on Tuesday night to restart stalled labor negotiations, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly rebuffed the union's attempt.NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said last week, in presenting the league's most recent offer to the players, that if a new collective bargaining agreement wasn't reached by this Thursday, it would be impossible for a full regular-season schedule to be played.No talks have been scheduled, and no last-minute discussions seem to be on tap."I don't anticipate any taking place for the balance of the week," Daly said in an email to The Associated Press on Tuesday night. "The union has rejected the proposal we made last Tuesday and is not offering another one. We see nothing to be gained at this point by meeting just to meet."Following a call for the union's executive board Tuesday night, the players' association informed the NHL it is willing to meet on Wednesday "or any other date, without preconditions, to try to reach an agreement," the players' association said in a statement.The NHL's response wasn't what the union had hoped to hear.The sides haven't met since the league turned down three counterproposals from the union on Thursday, two days after the NHL's offer that included a 50-50 split of hockey-related revenue. Because the players' association hasn't shown an inclination to negotiate off of that NHL proposal, a stalemate now exists and could last for a while."The league is apparently unwilling to meet," NHLPA special counsel Steve Fehr said in a statement. "That is unfortunate as it is hard to make progress without talking."The developments on Tuesday night came hours after more discourse between the sides on the 38th day of the league's lockout.While negotiators for the NHL and union kept conversations to a minimum, club officials had a brief window last week to discuss the league's latest proposal.Those secretive discussions haven't produced any breakthrough, but they have inflamed an already unsettled atmosphere. The union hierarchy wasn't informed about the window then, and isn't happy about it."Most owners are not allowed to attend bargaining meetings," Fehr said earlier Tuesday. "No owners are allowed to speak to the media about the bargaining. It is interesting that they are secretly unleashed to talk to the players about the meetings the players can attend, but the owners cannot."The NHL said Tuesday that team officials were able to have temporary contact with players, although there were parameters regarding what could be discussed."From our perspective, this is a nonissue and a nonstory," Daly said Tuesday in an email to The Associated Press. "There is nothing -- legally or otherwise -- that precludes club personnel from communicating with their players."But, more important, is the fact that NHL officials aren't haven't productive talks with union leaders. Now it seems that a full season, starting on Nov. 2, won't take place.As of now, the league has called off all games through Nov. 1. Without a deal this week, those games are in danger of being called off for good.Last week, the NHL's most recent contract offer was presented to the union and then publicly released in full. The union returned to the bargaining table last Thursday with its various counterproposals, that would also get to an even split of hockey revenue, but each was quickly rejected by the league.There is a major divide between the sides over how to deal with existing player contracts. The union wants to ensure that those are all paid in full without affecting future player contracts.No negotiations have taken place since last week, but the sides held two conference calls over the weekend to address questions the union had regarding the NHL offer.After the NHL released it on Wednesday, club officials were given until Friday to speak to players and answer questions they might have about the proposal.In an internal league memo obtained by The Canadian Press, the NHL stated that those discussions must be limited to the contents of the proposal on the table. It also provided examples of questions that shouldn't be asked of players and noted that straying from the rules could "cause serious legal problems.""You may not ask (a player) what he or others have in mind," the memo stated. "If he volunteers what he has in mind you should not respond positively or negatively or ask any questions but instead refer him to the NHLPA."Likewise, you may not suggest hypothetical proposals that the league might make in the future or that the league might entertain from the union."This was the first time club officials were permitted by the NHL to talk to players since the lockout took effect Sept. 16.

Blakely: This could be the start of something big for Celtics

Blakely: This could be the start of something big for Celtics

BOSTON -- Prior to this year, the Celtics hadn't been to the Eastern Conference finals since 2012. That trip served as a curtain call of sorts for the last great C's dynasty.
 
But this one, which ended with Cleveland's emphatic 135-102 Game 5 victory Thursday at TD Garden, is very different.
 
Rather than closing another chapter in the Celtics' longstanding legacy of greatness, it could serve as the beginning of a new narrative in the franchise's steady growth.
 
"For us to be in the Eastern Conference finals after the first year of this team really being together, adding additions like Al Horford and Gerald Green . . . I can go down the list of guys that we needed to learn to play with, and for us to talk about where we wanted to be and actually make it, it's a big-time accomplishment," said Avery Bradley.
 
Boston has been among the younger teams in the NBA, with the 31-year-old Green being the oldest player on the roster.
 
But what the Celtics lacked in experience, they made up for with great effort.
 
"The great thing about this is the experience," Bradley said. "We were able to go to the Eastern Conference finals, learned a lot about being in this position, and I feel like it's going to help us for next year."
 
But as we all know, the Celtics will look to strengthen themsevles this offseason, which means there's a very good chance they'll have a different look when they gather again in the fall.
 
How different is anyone's guess.
 
"It's difficult every year whenever you don't have guys back," said coach Brad Stevens. "I think you share a bond (over the course of a season)."
 
Stevens and this group have been together for eight months. Eight months of struggles, successes, frustrating defeats and euphoric victories that brought them to the conference finals, which is where their season came to an end.
 
But as disappointed as the players and coaches are inow, there's definite excitement about this franchise in the very near future.
 
Boston has the No. 1 overall pick in next month's draft, with all indications -- for now -- pointing to Washington's Markelle Fultz as their choice.
 
And their top first-round pick from a year ago, Jaylen Brown, seemed to steadily improve as the season progressed. It was one of the few times in his life where minutes weren't just handed to him, which he admits was a learning experience unlike anything he had ever had, yet he adjusted and played better as the year went along.

"I've had ups, I've had downs, I've had opportunities, I've had mistakes," said Brown. "So I've been learning and growing and improving all year and I'm going to continue growing and improving and prove people wrong, prove doubters wrong."
 
Having the season end the way it did has indeed left a bad taste in the mouths of many Celtics.
 
"I can use it as fuel," Brown said, adding: "I want to get back to the same place I'm at now."
 
Bradley, who was on the 2012 team that lost to the Miami Heat in the conference finals, knows the Celtics are going to do whatever they feel is necessary to give them the best chance at competing for a title.
 
"It's out of our control as players," Bradley said. "We had a great year together. If guys are here, if guys aren't, we all wish the best for each other.

"But I do feel this is a special group. We all gave our heart every single night, played as hard as we could. I respect all my teammates, and I really appreciated playing with all the guys I had a chance to play with this year; a special group."