NHLPA braces for another disclaimer vote, courtroom battle

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NHLPA braces for another disclaimer vote, courtroom battle

It was probably inevitable that the NHL labor negotiations were going to hit one more pothole during the slow crawl to the deadline.
The NHL and NHLPA broke off talks Thursday after meeting for only 45 minutes. The players then prepared to once again undertake a vote to give their Executive Board permission to file a disclaimer of interest and dissolve the union. The NHLPA had taken this action last month, but the deadline to file passed last night.

The union, in the midst of a long bargaining session with the owners, chose at the time to let the deadline pass. Theres a belief the NHL returned to its previous take-it-or-leave-it negotiating attitude after the deadline expired.

According to a source with knowledge of the process, the players would be able to re-vote on a disclaimer of interest quickly and could have it completed in one day, rather than the five days it took last time around.

The NHLPA also filed a motion in New York federal court on Thursday to dismiss the NHLs suit challenging their efforts to dissolve the union.
Heres the statement from the Judge Paul A. Engelmayer on the case: "The parties are directed to meet and confer on these subjects before Monday January 7 that is constructive, one that may enhance, and does not needlessly inhibit, the parties' ability to resolve their disputes with dispatch."
It all looks ugly on the outside, of course, as the lockout passed Day No. 110 on Thursday and continues to be a permanent stain of embarrassment, greed, selfishness and ego on the NHL brand. But all of that comes with the NHL and NHLPA knowing full well that they have until Jan. 11 to continue positioning themselves for the best deal possible.
More and more NHL employees are being notified that the season is expected to begin Jan. 19, consisting of a shortened 48-game schedule against conference opponents seven games against division rivals and two games apiece against every other team in the conference. It could also include an AHL-style schedule where the Bruins could play Friday and Saturday games against the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre a scenario across the league that could produce some interesting results.
Many around the NHLPA believe the threat of a disclaimer of interest is exactly the kind of leverage needed to finally force a palatable CBA that both groups can live with. It forced the NHL to come up with a comprehensive 300-page offer for the first time last week, and it should once again push the owners toward the negotiating table with the players.
Its a place they should have been from the very beginning, and were this week before Thursdays dip into unsavory waters.

What will it be like when Goodell shows up in Foxboro?

What will it be like when Goodell shows up in Foxboro?

Tom E. Curran in the Cumberland Farms lounge joins Sports Tonight to discuss what he thinks it will be like when Roger Goodell attends the Patriots home opener on September 7.

Burkhead's former running backs coach: 'He's going to flourish' with Patriots

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Burkhead's former running backs coach: 'He's going to flourish' with Patriots

PHOENIX -- Rex Burkhead was buried on a deep running back depth chart in Cincinnati, but in New England he may finally have a chance to show his offensive value. That's how Burkhead's former running backs coach and offensive coordinator Hue Jackson feels, at least.

Before he was hired as Browns head coach last season, Jackson worked closely with Burkhead for three years and saw the 5-foot-10, 210-pounder's versatile skill set on a daily basis. With the Patriots, under Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels, Jackson believes Burkhead has a chance to see that skill set maximized. 

"He's very talented," Jackson said during the league meetings at the Arizona Biltmore. "He's a guy that was playing behind some very talented players [with the Bengals], and so he's going to get his opportunity now, and he's going to flourish. He's a really good player. A really good player.

"He's very versatile because he's a good runner, a good pass-catcher. He's a good blocker. He's very bright. He's been a sensational special teams player there so he brings a lot of different elements to that football team."

The Patriots signed Burkhead to a one-year deal earlier this offseason that could pay him more than $3 million -- a sign that they're hoping he'll factor heavily into the offense in 2017. With LeGarrette Blount still on the free-agent market, Burkhead is currently the biggest back on the Patriots roster alongside Dion Lewis, James White and DJ Foster, and he could be in line for a significant amount of work in short-yardage situations and on first and second down.

Burkhead served primarily as a special-teamer during his four-year career in Cincinnati, but in Week 17 of last season, because of injuries to his teammates at the position, he was the Bengals lead back and ran 27 times for 119 yards and two touchdowns. We took a closer look at the qualities he put on display that day right here

It was a performance that gave Burkhead's profile a where-did-that-come-from type of boost as he headed toward unrestricted free agency, but his head coach at the time wasn't surprised.

"Not at all. That's why we drafted him," said Bengals sideline boss Marvin Lewis, who went on to explain why Burkhead was an inconsistent offensive contributor leading up to that game.

"A lot of times when Rex got opportunities to play, he wasn't quite 100 percent and so that kind of limited him some. Even in preseason opportunities and so forth like that where you'd go into the game, and it'd be Rex's -- in my mind, Rex's ballgame -- to carry the ball in the first or second quarter and he wasn't able to suit up that day.

"That's one of the things he's battled over his career is just being 100 percent completely healthy. [But] he's just a hard-working guy who always wants to be out there."

And in New England, it looks like he'll have the chance to be out there more.