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Volume 24 No. 156

Leagues and Governing Bodies

The NHLPA spent Thursday "shaping a new counter-proposal to the league, and will present it Friday morning," according to Steve Zipay of NEWSDAY. If there is "room for compromise and the sides are willing, it’s possible that they will meet again on Saturday." NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly on Thursday said, "We’re hopeful [that] it’s a meaningful proposal that we can continue to make progress from; we feel like we made a good step in that direction earlier this week, we hope they would take a step forward as well." The CBA is set to expire Sept. 15, and he added, "Obviously the clock is ticking. I would say the positive thing is that both parties are committed to ... if there are reasons to meet ... to continue to move forward" (, 8/30). The CP's Chris Johnston noted there is "a sense negotiations have reached crunch time, especially with the growing possibility" the league is heading toward a lockout. NHL business "is essentially on hold while players and teams wait to see if an agreement can be reached in time for training camps to open as scheduled Sept. 21 and the regular season to start Oct. 11." Negotiations are "now solely focused on the league’s economic system and figuring out how revenues are divided." Even the contract issues "have been pushed aside for the time being." The sides "don’t have any blackout days scheduled in the coming weeks, meaning they could conceivably bargain around the clock." Daly "wouldn’t even rule out the possibility of meeting through the Labour Day long weekend -- provided they have matters worth discussing once the NHLPA’s offer is put on the table" (CP, 8/30).

WATCH YOUR TONE:'s Allan Muir wrote the "most telling element won't necessarily be what [NHLPA Exec Dir] Donald Fehr and the players say, but how they say it." The tone of the talks "has been business-like and respectful." Muir: "Until Wednesday, anyway, when one could sense a little surliness slipping into the dialogue as the calendar grinds closer to Sept. 15." Fehr has "masked whatever frustration he's feeling with a well-practiced, professorial charm." But he "has to be tiring" of NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman's approach, particularly his "notions that a new formula for determining (i.e. shrinking) Hockey Related Revenue is critical and that escrow is a much more friendly method of dealing with salary overages than rollbacks." It is "tough to deal with someone when you're not speaking the same language" (, 8/30).

UNDER CONSIDERATION: CAA Hockey co-Head Pat Brisson said that if there is a lockout, Penguins C Sidney Crosby is "willing to consider playing in Europe." Brisson: "Sidney wants to play hockey. Of course he would consider alternatives (to the NHL)." Brisson said that he "has had 'many conversations with lots of European clubs' about players represented by his agency" (, 8/31). Brisson added that Blackhawks Cs Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane also would consider playing in Europe "under the right circumstances and appropriate time" (, 8/30).

The NFL regular season kicks off next week, and with the games counting, the "focus will intensify on replacement referees,” according to Clifton Brown of SPORTING NEWS. Negotiations between the NFL and the NFL Referees Association heading into Labor Day weekend “remained at an impasse,” and it is uncertain “when an agreement will be reached." Whenever a new deal is signed, it will “take the regular officials at least another week to get back on the field.” NFL Exec VP/Football Operations Ray Anderson said, "It takes two sides to reach an agreement. We believe we have made an aggressively fair proposal. They have a different opinion. Hopefully there will come a point when we will get back to the table, but I don’t know when that might occur.” He added, “Hopefully we don’t look up and it’s Week 16, and this thing’s still not done." One NFL player said, "I’m really concerned, because of a lack of consistency that I know is going to happen." Another player said, "I’m sure they’re going to miss a whole bunch of calls, and I’m sure they’re going to let a whole bunch of things go. In our first preseason game they did. It was ridiculous." NFLRA President Scott Green: "We are willing at any point to talk. But they were sending out letters to replacement officials while we were supposedly still negotiating. All we want is a fair deal. We’re talking about something that represents less than 1/3 of one percent of the NFL revenues" (, 8/30). ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported the “feeling around the league always has been that at some point right around Labor Day there would be a window of opportunity for these two sides to get back together to see if they could resolve their differences” (“NFL Live,” ESPN, 8/30). Chargers GM A.J. Smith said, “The commissioner and the league are handling that situation. As far as what I would say if we lost a game due to a mistake -- not much. What good would it do? You can’t take it back. You move on to the next game. We had a colossal mistake made by an official in years past that cost us a game. You move on” (, 8/30).

THE LEAGUE MAKING A STATEMENT HERE: In Boston, Christopher Gasper writes, “Tossing a false-start flag at the NFL for its plan to use replacement officials to start the season is warranted.” After years of “telling us how uniquely qualified their regular officials were, the NFL is basically trying to sell the football-consuming public the idea that anybody with a whistle and a dream can officiate games.” Gasper: "As long as the NFL employs ersatz whistleblowers, it is defaulting on its own obligation to live up to the commish’s words. It’s also engaging in hypocrisy.” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell “issued a gag order earlier this summer on coaches and players criticizing the replacement refs.” Gasper: “No complaining about your unsafe working conditions, guys” (BOSTON GLOBE, 8/31). In Phoenix, Kent Somers writes, “The NFL is being hypocritical. Again.” League officials “talk about what a privilege it is to play and work in the NFL, and how those who work under the league's shield should be careful not to tarnish the brand.” But the NFL “looks cheap in this stand-off.” Somers: “Get to the negotiating table. Get a deal done” (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 8/31). SportsNet N.Y.'s Sal Licata said, "Hopefully, it’s just one week and then the NFL learns the lesson, and then the outcry from that point forward gets the real officials back on the field because right now it’s a joke” (“The Wheelhouse,” SportsNet N.Y., 8/30). But in Providence, Jim Donaldson writes, “I don’t think it’ll be the end of the world … if the replacement refs have to work for a week, or two, or even three.” He adds, “It’s not like anybody’s paying anything to watch the refs” (PROVIDENCE JOURNAL, 8/31).

SURVEY SAYS: SPORTING NEWS recently surveyed 148 NFL players and asked them to rate Goodell's performance as commissioner. A total of 12 called his work “excellent,” while 89 said it was “satisfactory” and 38 described it as “poor.” Bills LB Arthur Moats said, “Satisfactory. When you’re looking for a guy to be a judge in every situation and every case, you’re never going to be perfect. But I feel like he’s doing a pretty good job.” But Jaguars CB and NFLPA rep Rashean Mathis said, “Poor. I think we as players feel it’s more of a dictatorship than a democracy. Are we working together as a whole in the NFL or is it just one man deciding everything?” (, 8/30).

In an “unlikely turn of events, the AVP will be back on the beach this weekend with the Cincinnati Open,” according to Amanda Rykoff of More than 170 pro and aspiring pro players -- including Olympians Jen Kessy, April Ross, Todd Rogers, Phil Dalhausser, Jake Gibb and Sean Rosenthal -- “will take to the beach in Washington Park in the Queen City to compete for $175,000 in prize money, U.S. pro beach volleyball's largest purse.” The AVP also announced that Kerri Walsh Jennings “will compete in Cincinnati with new partner, 2008 Olympian Nicole Branagh.” AOS Group Managing Partner & Owner Donald Sun “hopes to bring the tour back to the prominence of his youth.” Sun said, “I know getting the right people in place to make it profitable is key, but it's something that, from a passion point of view, you don't get these opportunities very often." Rykoff noted the AVP “doesn’t have sponsors or television deals lined up yet.” Sun is “effectively bankrolling the new venture himself.” Sun believes the new AVP "should launch this year and attempt to capitalize on the momentum generated by this year's Summer Olympics.” There will be “two events this year, this weekend’s Cincinnati Open and the 2012 AVP Championships on Sept. 15 and 16 in Santa Barbara, Calif.” Sun “hopes to have between four and six tournaments next year.” He said, “We’d like to be calling them ‘the majors’ like golf or tennis and building tournaments around them” (, 8/30). Walsh Jennings said, “A quality event in the U.S. is exactly what the sport needs" (, 8/30).