NHL, NHLPA once again getting close in talks

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NHL, NHLPA once again getting close in talks

The NHL and NHLPA have patched things up and are continuing to push toward a new CBA with deadlines surrounding them.

After two days of separate meetings with federal mediator Scot Beckenbaugh, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and deputy commissioner Bill Daly made their way to the players New York City hotel on Saturday afternoon for the first face-to-face meeting since Thursday.

Beckenbaughs work on Friday and Saturday was crucial in getting the two parties close enough to get in the same room, and perhaps building some of the trust that had been frayed by a pair of misunderstandings this week.

Its been reported that progress has been made in the area of the pension plan and the second year salary cap number, and that both sides are showing encouraging amounts of movement toward a middle ground. Former NHL defenseman Bret Hedican even tweeted on Saturday afternoon that: Nothing official yet that I've heard, but several sources have said it's done. Let's hope this is Official!

But several players contacted by CSNNE.com indicated that theyve heard no official word about the lockout being over, and were skeptical about any reports saying otherwise.

Those NHL players contacted by CSNNE.com are in Ill Believe It When I See It mode after spending too much time on the CBA meat grinder over the last four months.

The assumption is that the NHL and NHLPA are working diligently for an agreement as the hours count down to the players association having another opportunity to file a disclaimer of interest motion at 6 p.m. The NHL is still on target for a Jan. 19 start to the regular season that would open up a 48-game shortened regular season featuring a compacted schedule against only conference foes.

A dose of reality: the NHL and NHLPA have been close to agreements on several occasions in the last month and have had talks disintegrate quickly over one snag or another. So cautious optimism is once again the phrase of the day.

Red Sox recall Sam Travis, send Velázquez back to Pawtucket

Red Sox recall Sam Travis, send Velázquez back to Pawtucket

BOSTON -- On the list of Red Sox problems, finding a platoon partner for Mitch Moreland at first base isn't high on the list. But the others -- third base, fifth starter -- aren't solvable at the moment, so the Sox turned to one they think they can solve.

Today they recalled Sam Travis from Pawtucket, most likely to provide relief for Moreland against left-handed pitching. Travis' path to the majors was delayed by a knee injury that cost him a good chunk of the 2016 season -- otherwise, odds are good he'd have been here by now -- but he signaled his readiness by recovering from a 5-for-36 start with a sizzling .344 average in 90 at-bats since April 22 that includes six doubles and three home runs. His OPS in that span is .909.

Most importantly, Travis crushes left-handed pitching. He's hit .358 (93-for-260) against them in his professional career, and is .414 (12-for-29) against them this year. 

Hector Velázquez was sent back to the PawSox to make room for Travis, ensuring another roster move later this week. After Kyle Kendrick's failed attempt to take control of the fifth spot in the starting rotation, Velázquez was called up and given a shot in Oakland last Thursday night. He allowed six earned runs over five innings, failing the test. And thus the search for a fifth starter -- at least until David Price returns -- continues.

Price will make a rehab start in Pawtucket tomorrow and could return to Boston after that, but the Sox will need a pitcher for Saturday's game against Seattle. Even if Price is cleared to return to Boston, he won't be able to pitch Saturday on two days' rest.

Now-and-again Fun League? NFL lightens up on touchdown celebrations

Now-and-again Fun League? NFL lightens up on touchdown celebrations

Roger Goodell announced on Tuesday that the NFL would ease off its restrictions on touchdown celebrations going forward. 

"Just as NFL teams use the offseason to get better, at the league we use this time to listen to players, coaches, officials and fans about how we can continue to improve our great game.," he said in a statement. " . . . Today, we are excited to tell you about another change that comes after conversations with more than 80 current and former players: we are relaxing our rules on celebrations to allow players more room to have fun after they make big plays."

Using the football as a prop, celebrating on the ground and group celebrations will all be allowed after scores under the new policy.

"Offensive demonstrations, celebrations that are prolonged and delay the game, and those directed at an opponent, will still be penalized," Goodell explained.