'No progress' in NHL meetings; no further talks with mediators planned

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'No progress' in NHL meetings; no further talks with mediators planned

The NHL and NHLPA concluded two days with federal mediators on Thursday, with no progress was made on any front.

There are no immediate plans for either side to meet with the mediators again, and no further bargaining meetings have been scheduled between the players and the league. The NHL and NHLPA can go back through the mediation route if they come closer to a new Collective Bargaining Agreement in the next four to six weeks, but -- as with this go-round -- there are no guarantees.

"Today, we concluded two days of mediation with FMCS mediators and representatives of the NHL Players' Association," NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said in a statement.  "After spending several hours with both sides over two days, the presiding mediators concluded that the parties remained far apart, and that no progress toward a resolution could be made through further mediation at this point in time.  We are disappointed that the mediation process was not successful."

With no bargaining sessions on tap, the Dec. 5 NHL Board of Governors meeting becomes the next big date on the schedule of events. NHLPA Executive Director Donald Fehr also released a statement following the meeting with federal mediators, and said they may be utilized again down the line.

"Today, players and the NHLPA staff, along with representatives of the league, concluded a second day of mediation under the auspices of the FMCS," said Fehr. "This afternoon the mediators informed the parties that they did not think it was productive to continue the discussions further today. The mediators indicated that they would stay in contact with the league and the NHLPA, and would call the parties back together when they thought the time was right."

Perhaps there will be a number of NHL owners who will decide to press for an end to the lockout, which has cost both the league and the players millions of dollars. But, more likely, the next step will probably be a discussion of potential nuclear options for each side:

NHLPA union decertification chatter has been gaining in volume among the players over the last week, and it's a road the league could be legitimately afraid to walk down. While actual decertification could take up to two months, the NHLPA could file a disclaimer of interest, which basically means Fehr and the NHLPA no longer represent the players.

That action would be immediate, and would essentially accomplish the same goal as decertification. It would allow the players to file antitrust lawsuits, and seek potentially significant damages from the league for lost wages.

Similarly there have been rumblings the NHL owners are ready to pull the 211 million make whole offer from the table as more games get cancelled, and the Hockey Related Revenue sum continues to shrink due to the lockout.

But for now there is just silence as the lockout heads toward its fourth month.

Highlights: Devin Booker puts up 70 points but Celtics get the win

Highlights: Devin Booker puts up 70 points but Celtics get the win

Highlights from the TD Garden as Devin Booker had a historic performance where he scored 70 points, but it wasn't enough to get the win over the Celtics.

Thomas on Suns: 'We’re worried about the playoffs; they’re worried about the lottery'

Thomas on Suns: 'We’re worried about the playoffs; they’re worried about the lottery'

BOSTON – Stacking wins on top of wins is the mindset of the Boston Celtics right now, so the players who did speak to the media following Friday’s 130-120 win over Phoenix drove that point home emphatically.

But inside the locker room, it was unusually quiet, the kind of silence you expect following a loss.

Considering how the Celtics’ defense was absolutely thrashed by Devin Booker’s franchise record 70 points, there’s no question at a minimum the Celtics’ pride overall was stung.

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And when Suns coach Earl Watson began calling time-outs and having his team commit fouls at the end of the game, there’s no question it rubbed a few Celtics the wrong way.

“I don’t think anybody has ever seen that; continuing to call time-outs, continuing to foul when we are up 15. But I mean, it was obvious what they were trying to do. They were trying to get him (Booker) the most points possible. Hat off to to him (Booker). He played a hell of a game.”

Following the game, Watson defended his late-game decision making.

“Calling time-outs at the end kept the game close,” he said. “It’s basketball; I’m not coming to any arena to be liked. If people don’t like us while we build … so what? Do something about it.”

The Suns (22-51) never came any closer than 10 points, which was the final score margin.

Al Horford acknowledged that there was some aggravation following the game.

“You can be frustrated when somebody is doing that to you,” he said. “It’s not to one guy, it’s to the team so I think we’re probably more aggravated at ourselves, at least personally I feel that way. I probably could have done a little better, maybe done some different things to prevent it. We got to give him credit, 70 points, I don’t care it’s 70, he got 70. It’s impressive.”

But there will be some inside the Celtics locker room and among their fan base, who were bothered by the Suns’ late-game actions which seemed more focused on Booker getting numbers than anything else.

When asked about being disrespected by the Suns’ late-game strategy, Thomas wanted no part of that conversation.

“It is what it is,” Thomas said. “We won the game. We’re worried about the playoffs; they’re worried about the lottery.”

 Boom!