NHL players hope Tuesday meeting can salvage season


NHL players hope Tuesday meeting can salvage season

Bruins players remaining in Boston are starting to run low on optimism, understandably, but theyre mustering up whatever theyve got left for todays big NHL powwow in New York City.

A group of six NHL owners including Bostons Jeremy Jacobs, Torontos Larry Tanenbaum, Pittsburghs Ron Burkle, Calgarys Murray Edwards, Winnipegs Mark Chipman and Tampa Bays Jeff Vinik are set to meet with a currently unspecified group of players that reportedly will include Sidney Crosby and Jonathan Toews.

Both NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA Executive Director Donald Fehr will be taking a step back from the face-to-face negotiations, and the hope is that a couple of different things take place. First there is optimism that new voices among the owners negotiating will bring a different vibe to the CBA process, and theres also the simple hope that frank face-to-face discussions between owner and player will produce some traction in the talks.

The 18 NHLPA members attending the negotiation session are: Craig Adams, David Backes, Michael Cammalleri, Sidney Crosby, B.J. Crombeen, Mathieu Darche, Shane Doan, Ron Hainsey, Shawn Horcoff, Jamal Mayers, Manny Malhotra, Andy McDonald, Ryan Miller, George Parros, Brad Richards, Martin St. Louis, Jonathan Toews and Kevin Westgarth.

Perhaps two people with a tight playerowner relationship like CrosbyBurkle can bridge the gap between the two sides: a sum of 182 million in the make whole provision and a number of player contract rights chief among the issues that leave the players and owners in a stalemate.

Im hopeful," Milan Lucic, who attended a Tuesday morning informal skate with some of his Bruins teammates. "Ive been trying to stay optimistic this whole time that well have hockey this year and today is no different. As players weve stayed strong as a union and I dont think thats going to change whether the executive guys are in the room or not.

Our message has been clear the whole time and hopefully this is light at the end of the tunnel. I think new voices are a positive. Youve got the Pittsburgh owners in there and Im pretty sure Crosby is going to be one of the guys in the negotiating room. Im pretty sure they already have a relationship, so hopefully they can work together to help this cause. There will be some big-name guys in there that know whats going on, and hopefully theyll work something out to salvage the season.

Thornton was equally hopeful that the unconventional playersowners setting for Tuesdays meeting will lead to something significant with a Dec. 5 Board of Governors meeting looming on Wednesday. Its believed if things dont go well on Tuesday that the NHL owners will put a timeline in place to possibly cancel the entire 2012-13 season if no progress is reached soon.

Were all hopeful that is a genuine effort by the league to achieve some progress. It was their idea to put this together, so lets see what they have to say, said Thornton. Its getting late into the game on all of this stuff now, so we dont have a lot of time left to negotiate. Hopefully today leads to some real negotiating and a finished deal.

The meeting is set to start around 2 p.m., so all NHL fans, observers, players and owners alike should know by the end of the day whether or not the prospect of a shortened hockey season just got a little rosier.

WATCH: Celtics vs. Suns

WATCH: Celtics vs. Suns

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Jones-Molina WBC spat is a clash of cultures . . . and that's great


Jones-Molina WBC spat is a clash of cultures . . . and that's great

The Adam Jones-Yadier Molina verbal skirmish is as predictable as it is annoying.

Was every cultural nuance for the 16 World Baseball Classic teams explained in a booklet the players had to memorize before the tournament?

No? Then it’s amazing there weren’t more moments like this.

Jones, the Orioles outfielder, said Team USA's championship game win over Puerto Rico was motivated by Puerto Rico's choice to plan a post-tournament parade for the team before the final game.

As Jones and his teammates know, parades in pro sports are for championship teams. Red Sox fans are likely aware of this.

As Jones and his teammates know, discussing a parade before a title is secured suggests overconfidence. Rex Ryan fans are likely aware of this.

After an 8-0 win for the U.S., Jones revealed the parade was used as bulletin-board material.

"Before the game, we got a note that there was some championship shirts made -- we didn't make 'em -- and a flight [arranged],” Jones said. “That didn't sit well with us. And a parade -- it didn't sit well with us."

But apparently, Jones didn't know the full context of the parade. It was reportedly planned regardless of whether Puerto Rico won.

One Team USA teammate of Jones whom CSNNE spoke with didn't believe that, however.

"It was called a champions parade that got turned into a celebration parade once they lost," the player said. "I think they just don't like getting called out by Jones, but all Jones did was tell exactly what happened."

Jones’ comments weren’t received well.

Puerto Rico's going through a trying time, a recession, and the entire island rallied behind the team.

“Adam Jones . . . is talking about things he doesn't know about," Molina told ESPN’s Marly Rivera. "He really has to get informed because he shouldn't have said those comments, let alone in public and mocking the way [preparations] were made.”

No one should be upset Jones explained what he was thinking.

Jones actually asked MLB Network host Greg Amsinger, “Should I tell the truth?”

Yes. It’s better than lying.

Look at the reactions across the WBC: the bat flips, the raw emotion. Honesty conveyed via body language.

People in the U.S. are starting to accept and crave those reactions. The WBC helped promote a basic idea: let people be themselves.

Jones said what was on his mind. We can’t celebrate bat flips and then say Jones should keep his mouth shut.

But there's an unreasonable expectation being placed on Jones here.

He heard about a parade -- which is to say, a subject he wouldn't normally think twice about or investigate before a championship baseball game.

Plus, it gave him motivation.

Why is Jones, or anyone with Team USA, more responsible for gaining an advance understanding of Puerto Rico’s parade-planning conventions -- we're talking about parade planning! -- than Puerto Rico is responsible for keeping U.S. norms in mind when making and/or talking about those plans?

No one involved here was thinking about the other’s perception or expectation. It's impossible to always do so.

But that’s how these moments develop: what’s obvious to one party is outlandish to the other.

Now Molina, Puerto Rico's catcher, wants an apology.

"He has to apologize to the Puerto Rican people," Molina told ESPN. "Obviously, you wanted to win; he didn't know what this means to [our] people."

Jones can clear the air with an apology, but he doesn't owe one. And he definitely doesn't owe one after Molina took it a step further.

"I'm sending a message to [Jones], saying, 'Look at this, right now you're in spring training working out, and we're with our people, with our silver medals,' " Molina said. "You're in spring training and you're working . . . you have no idea how to celebrate your honors, you don't know what it means.”

Team USA had no parade. Manager Jim Leyland made clear how the U.S. was celebrating, by recognizing those serving the country.

The silver lining here is how much attention the WBC has drawn, and how much conversation it can drive. People care, a great sign for the sport -- and its potential to foster better understanding across cultures.

Internationally, the sport is on parade.