NHL labor talks in a deep freeze on Day 45 of lockout


NHL labor talks in a deep freeze on Day 45 of lockout

Both sides of the NHL labor talks are communicating via emails and texts, according to various reports, but there are still no plans for the parties to formally meet as the lockout reached Day 45 on Tuesday.

NHLPA Executive Director Donald Fehr granted an interview with the Minneapolis Star-Tribune where he outlined whats been taking place since the NHL pulled their 5050 offer at the end of last week.

The league, on the other hand, has refused all requests to meet. It put talks into a deep freeze after reports indicated that the Winter Classic could be cancelled as soon as the end of this week.

The more things change, the harder it becomes, Fehr said in the interview with the Star-Tribune. Im not going to talk about future contingencies in the event we cant reach an agreement . . . Im not going to discuss what we might do in other proposals down the road.

We gave them three different approaches to have the player share fall over time. Its an eminently reasonable position, and their position seems to be to cut the share immediately, which has the effect of cutting the individual contracts, including ones they just signed a few weeks ago. Youve got to wonder how somebody can look at themselves in the mirror when they do that.

Fehr admitted in the interview that a splintering of the players union is a concern given how many NHL players dont want to miss another season as the league did during the 2004-05 season, but that doesnt mean that hes going to take a bad deal. The league is said to be planning their next move, and seems to be waiting as the heat continues to get dialed up against the out-of-work players.

Meanwhile both sides appear quietly and resolutely headed toward what could be a pivotal week for a negotiation that is trending toward an overwhelmingly negative outcome for both the players and the league. There shouldnt be any other cancellations this week aside from the Winter Classic if that does go on the chopping block, but one has to wonder how much value there is in any season at all if cancelled games move into December without their big outdoor attraction.

Here's a brief letter that NHLPA executive director Don Fehr sent to the leagues 700-plus players, provided by CSNWashington.com The letter reads:

At every opportunity we have continued to state that we are ready to meet and willing to discuss all open issues, including the owners last offer.

Nonetheless, to date, their group has declined to commit to a meeting unless it can dictate what the agenda is. We will update you further as soon as there is anything more to report.

Regards, Don.

Report: Cavs. Pacers, Nuggets discuss deal involving George, Love

Report: Cavs. Pacers, Nuggets discuss deal involving George, Love

Don’t count the Cleveland Cavaliers out of the Paul George sweepstakes just yet.

According to ESPN’s Marc Stein and Chris Haynes, the Cavaliers are still working on a way to get George with LeBron James and Kyrie Irving in Ohio.

The latest rumor involves a three way deal being discussed between the Cavaliers, Indiana Pacers, and Denver Nuggets. According to Hayes, the deal would send George and Kenenth Faried to Cleveland and Kevin Love to Denver.

Presumably, Indiana would end up with good picks and a few young assets.

Click here for the complete story.

Will the Harris signing mean more time on the edge for Hightower?

Will the Harris signing mean more time on the edge for Hightower?

David Harris is expected to be a savvy middle linebacker who will line up his teammates when they help. He's expected to provide some level of leadership, even in his first year in New England, as an accomplished-but-hungry 33-year-old who has not yet reached a Super Bowl. 

What Harris is not expected to do is improve the Patriots pass rush. He was in on one sack in 900 snaps last season.  

But in a roundabout way he might. 

MORE: How does Derek Carr's new deal impact Jimmy Garoppolo?

There are dominos to fall now that Harris has been added to Bill Belichick and Matt Patricia's defense. How much will Harris play, and whose playing time will he cut into? Those questions don't yet have answers, but one of the more intriguing elements of the Harris acquisition is how he will benefit Dont'a Hightower's game.

If Harris can pick up the Patriots defense quickly -- and all indications are that there should be few issues there -- he could take some of the all-important communication responsibilities off of Hightower's shoulders. 

Ever since taking the reins from Jerod Mayo as the team's signal-caller, Hightower has had to be on top of all requisite pre-snap checks and last-second alignment changes. It's a critical role, and one that Hightower performs well, but those duties place some added stress on the player wearing the green dot. Perhaps if part of that load can be heaped onto Harris' plate, that might allow Hightower to feel as though he's been freed up to focus on his individual assignments.

Harris' presence might also impact where on the field Hightower is used. Hightower may be the most versatile piece on a Patriots defense loaded with them, but with Harris in the middle, Hightower could end up playing more on the edge, where he's proven he can make a major impact (see: Super Bowl LI).

For Belichick and his staff, having the ability to use one of their best pass-rushers -- and one of the most efficient rushers league-wide, per Pro Football Focus -- on the edge more frequently has to be an enticing byproduct of the move to sign Harris. Especially since there are some question marks among the team's end-of-the-line defenders behind Trey Flowers and Rob Ninkovich. 

We'll have to wait for training camp before we have an idea of how exactly Harris fits in with the Patriots defense. But the effect he'll have on his new teammates, and Hightower in particular, will be fascinating to track.