Here We Go Again: NHL Lockout Underway

Here We Go Again: NHL Lockout Underway

Training camps were set to open in a mere six days, while opening night in arenas across North America is scheduled for less than one month from now. But on Sunday at midnight, the National Hockey League officially locked out its players for the third time in two decades, putting all future dates on ice indefinitely.

Whether you're an avid fan who has been following along, or the wake-me-in-January type casually keeping abreast of the developments, news of a lockout coming into effect is nothing earth-shattering. One need only look at recent history to suspect labor strife is always right around the corner in the NHL, and overtures toward this latest work stoppage have been a year in the making.

As for what it's all about, Sarah Baicker breaks down the meaningful issues better than I can. If I were being succinct and forward though, I would argue it boils down to the owners crapping on the players rather than attempt to resolve the real issues a handful of franchises are having maintaining profitability.

All this, unfortunately, at a time when by seemingly any measure the sport has achieved record popularity in the States. It's bad enough longtime fans constantly are put on the back burner because the league "knows" they will come back. However, they risk disenfranchising new fans, thus potentially cutting into the league's growth with this latest stunt.

What happens next is anybody's guess. For the season to start on time -- unlikely given how far apart the league and the union are said to be -- you would think camps need to open on time or without much delay, which means there is still a week or so to figure things out. Most observers feel the entire season will not be lost as a result, so there's that at least.

As far as the Flyers go, not much to be said for their part. As Menta reported for CSN, Brayden Schenn and Sean Couturier were optioned to the Phantoms in advance of the lockout. It remains to be seen whether any of Philly's players will look to Europe for work. At this point, most probably are not yet certain what the next step is.

Not much left to add, other than it's a damn shame. Labor disputes are a fact of life in the real world, increasingly so it feels in all walks of life. We saw it with the NBA and NFL over the past year and a half, and football still has their officials watching the games on TV with the rest of us.

It's a little different with the NHL though, because it's constant, and they just lost an entire season like yesterday or something. Not to mention it's hard to sympathize with a bunch of wealthy owners when their front offices are running around offering 100-million-dollar contracts as if they are Arby's coupons.

You're smart businessmen. Figure it out. Spare the rest of us.

Steve Mason rediscovers himself in New York just before Flyers return

Steve Mason rediscovers himself in New York just before Flyers return

It had been a while since Steve Mason saw himself.

Walking into the Barclays Center on Sunday, the Flyers’ goalie was 0-6-2 with a 4.03 goals-against average and .844 save percentage over his last 10 appearances (see more recent Flyers numbers and stats).

A far cry of how Mason truly sees himself in net.

But heading into Wednesday’s rivalry clash with the Rangers, Mason will have something to build on, something he couldn’t say since Dec. 21 - the last previous time he had earned a victory. He’s fresh off his first win in over a month, a massive one for Mason considering all the key moments on Sunday the Flyers hope invigorate his confidence.

Without numerous clutch stops from their goalie, the Flyers don’t come back from two goals down to beat the Islanders, 3-2, in overtime. Mason made four saves  — three on four-time All-Star John Tavares — in just over a minute of a third-period power play. The Flyers ended up having to kill two New York man advantages in the final 10 minutes of regulation in order to force overtime.

The extra session is when Mason was just as good, if not better, stoning Tavares on a breakaway attempt that had game-winner written all over it. Mason made four saves in overtime after 13 in the third period.

“I was happy with the way that, personally, this game went for myself,” Mason said Sunday. “It’s been a tough stretch and this is more the type of game that I expect of myself. In recent games, the team was lacking the big saves and tonight it shows what kind of difference it can make.”

It was a massive performance heading into a massive three-game stretch against the Rangers, Maple Leafs and Hurricanes.

“Mase made some huge saves for us,” Simmonds said. “It allowed us to get back in that game.

“It’s not just Mase [with the] ups and downs. Everyone in here has been kind of fighting it and squeezing sticks pretty tight. That one felt good and I think Mase led the charge for sure.”

Mason understands just one game doesn’t turn around a season.

“It’s nice to feel good after a game,” Mason said. “At the same time, whether you’re winning or losing, you have to have a short mindset and get ready for the next one.”

That brings the Flyers to Madison Square Garden Wednesday to face the Rangers, who they’ve lost five straight games to dating back to last season. Mason hasn’t had much luck against New York this season, allowing seven goals in two losses with an .860 save percentage. However, in 2015-16, Mason put up a 1.74 goals-against average and .941 save percentage in five games against the Rangers.

“That’s going to be a tough game going into MSG,” Mason said Tuesday (see story).

The good thing: Mason was in New York two days ago, remembering what he can be.

Manute Bol's 7-foot, 17-year-old son dominates in HS season debut

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AP Images

Manute Bol's 7-foot, 17-year-old son dominates in HS season debut

Bol Bol, the 17-year-old son of the late Manute Bol, is a top high school basketball prospect with offers from schools like Arizona, Kansas and Creighton. This highlight tape should give you an idea why.
 
Bol, whose father played in the NBA for parts of 12 seasons, including 215 games for the Sixers, now attends the famed Mater Dei High School in California and played in his first game of the season this past weekend. Listed as the No. 16 overall prospect in the 2018 recruiting class by Scout, Bol started his season off with a big 21-point, 10-rebound effort.
 
Take a look at the highlight tape from the 6-foot-11 Bol and expect to see him carry on his father’s legacy on the court at a major NCAA college basketball program soon.