Report: Campbell considers joining Ference in Czech Republic


Report: Campbell considers joining Ference in Czech Republic

Gregory Campbell might be joining up with Bruins alternate captain Andrew Ference in the Czech Republic to sharpen up his hockey skills while the NHL lockout enters a critical stage.

The fourth line center has been skating in Boston with a small group of Bruins skaters and Boston NHL locals over the last few months while waiting for a labor agreement to be worked out. But Campbell remained very non-committal about playing in Europe until recently, and that might be something worth noting.

He told the Boston Globe that hes mulling a chance to join the HC Mountfield Ceske Budejovice team thats employed Ference since early October, and could join a second wave of NHL players that have been headed to Europe over the last week. Some are taking the mass exodus of players to Europe as a troubling sign, but perhaps this is the most encouraging harbinger yet that the NHL players believe an abridged training camp could be only a few weeks away. The games in Europe could allow players like Campbell to sharpen things up before the NHL regular season could begin on Dec. 1.

Ference went to Europe early because hes entering the walk year of his contract in Boston, and felt he needed to be in the best possible condition when the puck is finally dropped in North America.

Campbell has spent his free time in the Boston area skating five days a week, taking ride-a-longs with the Boston Police in a profession that might have been a reality had he not made it in pro hockey and biding his time like every other NHL follower. When the season does finally get going, however, Campbell will be starting the first season of a three-year, 4.8 million contract signed this summer.

Both of Campbells fourth line mates, Shawn Thornton and Daniel Paille, continue to skate in the Boston area as well, but perhaps the recent European signings of Campbell and Chris Kelly could portend more to come. Campbell would be the 11th Bruins player to sign in Europe, tops among any of the 30 NHL teams.

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.