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SBD/August 23, 2012/Leagues and Governing BodiesPrint All
After yesterday's CBA talks were cancelled, the NHL and NHLPA "mutually decided to reconvene with their negotiating teams" today, when "key economic issues are slated to be back on the table," according to Chris Johnston of the CP. NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said, "I think system-related proposals and economical proposals are the most critical issues and probably the issues where we have the widest divergence of views currently. I'm all in favour of spending as much time as possible trying to bridge those gaps." Sources said that the NHLPA today "will expand on its proposal as it pertains to rules governing player contracts." Those details "weren't previously included when the players presented their offer last week." Daly said, "I think more than anything else it was to review where we are in the process, where we’ve come from, where we are with the various proposals and to determine how to move the process forward in the best way possible -- hoping and understanding that both sides are committed to using the time left to making a deal as quickly as possible." But Johnston noted "very little progress seemed to be made" (CP, 8/22).
SPINNING THEIR WHEELS? In Winnipeg, Gary Lawless notes NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA Exec Dir Donald Fehr yesterday "talked for a few hours until Gary Bettman cleared his throat and got to the bones of the issue: Are the players willing to bargain on the economic issues of today's NHL?" Fehr “took the question under advisement and the two sides broke apart for the day.” Lawless writes what is "becoming increasingly clear is the NHL and its union agree they are far apart and can't decide if they are too distant to begin negotiating or if there is an opening for dialogue." A source said, "There's no sense sitting in a room if no one is going to say anything. We need to find out if we have anything to talk about" (WINNIPEG FREE PRESS, 8/23). Fehr said, "You could probably observe that there is some degree of frustration between the parties." But Daly said that there "were 'no cross words,' in yesterday's session, nor any suggestion the sides were arguing 'apples and oranges,' from their initial proposals" (N.Y. POST, 8/23). Fehr: "The gulf that separates us is triggered essentially by the owners' position that the players have to make enormous concessions, far more than they did last time -- and what they did last time was stunningly large" (Raleigh NEWS & OBSERVER, 8/23). Bruins G Tuukka Rask said, "I thought when I read the proposal that we made, it made sense and it was a pretty smart move." Bruins D Dennis Seidenberg: "We stand together as a players' union and we'll fight for what we think is fair." (BOSTON HERALD, 8/23).
DON'T READ TOO MUCH INTO IT: SPORTING NEWS' Jesse Spector wrote, "Had Wednesday morning's talks signaled a breakdown between the two sides, surely they would not be planning to meet again Thursday." While Fehr said that it "would not be 'conducive' to try to characterize whether there was progress, it is clear the league and union know what their next step is" (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 8/22). In Ottawa, Ken Warren writes, "Good news? Bad news? At this point, it's hard to say whether the path toward a new collective bargaining agreement is any more positive or negative than last week" (OTTAWA CITIZEN, 8/23). In Columbus, Aaron Portzline writes of the cancelled talks, "neither side portrayed it as a setback" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 8/23). In St. Louis, Jeremy Rutherford writes, "The postponement of Wednesday's NHL's collective-bargaining negotiations continued to highlight the gap between the league and NHL Players' Association, and the emotions that are growing as a result of their differences." But it also could "be argued that Wednesday's development proves how the league and union remain in the early stages of their talks" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 8/23). In Toronto, Cathal Kelly writes there is "no reason for Gary Bettman to fear a lockout, or even the loss of an entire season." History has "already taught him that a year off is good for business." Hockey fans may "be upset, and it may take a while, but they'll all come back eventually." They have "nowhere else to go" (TORONTO STAR, 8/23).
COUNTER-PRODUCTIVE MOVES? The OTTAWA CITIZEN's Warren notes Oilers LW Taylor Hall yesterday signed a seven-year, $42M contract extension, "raising even more eyebrows," as 15 players since July 1 have "signed contracts of six seasons or more." The long-term deals are "intriguing, considering that the original proposal from the NHL's bargaining committee called for a five-year term limit on contracts." Warren: "If clubs are still operating on a business-as-usual principle, doesn't that hurt the NHL's bargaining position?" (OTTAWA CITIZEN, 8/23).
With the NFL "facing lawsuits and intense public scrutiny, the league has no choice but to be proactive regarding safety," according to Clifton Brown in the fourth part of a weeklong feature on the impact of NFL concussions for SPORTING NEWS. The fourth entry in Sporting News' special report is titled, "Changes Coming In Quest For More Perfect Violence." NFL Competition Committee Chair Rich McKay "insists the league has always made player safety a priority." McKay said, “If we have to do something from a safety perspective, we’re going to do it, and we’re not going to worry about the blowback from the public, former players, or current players that always come out when we make a change.” A study authorized by the NFLPA indicated that "the number of concussions on kickoffs decreased" 43% from '10 to '11. McKay "wants the competition committee to monitor the impact of the new kickoff rule for several more seasons before considering more potential changes." McKay: "Would we ever eliminate kickoffs? I don’t know what the future holds. Kickoffs are part of the game’s tradition, and we’re very hesitant to change tradition unless we need to. But if we need to, we will.” Steelers LB James Harrison said, "Believe it or not, some of the changes being made are good. But I believe they are trying to make a rule for every incident, and you can’t do that. There are things that happen on a football field that you can’t control." In addition to on-field rule changes, the feature examines the likelihood of an increased regular season schedule, how NFL equipment "will look much different 10 years from now," and the potential of leaguewide mandates for independent neurologists and post-concussion waiting periods (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 8/23).
Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club in North Plains, Ore., "in a dramatic 1-2 punch" has proposed to host the LPGA '17 Safeway Classic and '17 Solheim Cup events "on its two terrific Bob Cupp tracks -- Ghost Creek and Witch Hollow," according to GOLFWEEK's Forecaddie. There was a "meeting of the minds last week during the Safeway Classic and the obvious questions arose: Are there enough volunteers? Would fans come out two weeks in a row? Would the Solheim still be special if players already were on property at a regular tour stop?" The Safeway Classic's contract is "up for renewal," and the tournament has "operated four consecutive years under a one-year contract." The LPGA "won't make a decision" on the Solheim Cup until '13. The Inverness Golf Club in Denver, Co., host of four U.S. Opens, two U.S. Senior Opens, two PGA Championships and a U.S. Amateur "also is interested" (GOLFWEEK, 8/24 issue).
SAFEWAY ON THE FAIRWAY? In Portland, Mike Tokito noted the '12 Safeway Classic finished "without a sponsor secured for the next year." The grocery store chain has been the "title sponsor or co-sponsor for 17 years." Tournament Golf Foundation officials said that they "feel good about the case they can make to lure Safeway back." TGF President Tom Maletis said, "I think we're one of the top organizations running a tournament, obviously the field speaks for itself, the course speaks for itself, and the schedule is great. I feel optimistic because we're offering them everything a sponsor wants. If it's something other than that, then that's something I can't control." Safeway Northwest Division President Steve Frisby said, "We're proud to be a part of it. We've been a part of it for 17 years. We'll see where we go." Maletis said that TGF's "goal is to secure a multiple-year deal with Safeway" (Portland OREGONIAN, 8/20).