Bettman: This Process Is Over, NHL Prepared to Martyr Itself

Bettman: This Process Is Over, NHL Prepared to Martyr Itself

NHL labor negotiations once again hit a snag on Thursday, to
the surprise of nobody – although I’m not sure anybody was quite prepared for
what happened next. To be blunt, what followed the latest break in talks could
only be described as a complete and utter meltdown, with commissioner Gary
Bettman taking center stage for this tragic theater.

To make a long story short, the reported cause of the latest rift is the NHL
owners made a take-it-or-leave-it offer to the players, who in turn responded
with what is commonly referred to as a counteroffer. Apparently unhappy with any
response that deviated from, “Yes,” the owners took their puck and went home.

That in itself isn’t a big deal – extremely frustrating,
but not end-of-the-world stuff. NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr delivered
a pointed press conference explaining the union’s positions in some of the
discussions over the past week, then calmly took questions. The sides sounded
close. He even used the word “close.”

Then Bettman spoke. He always does that!

Visibly upset, Bettman raged for nine minutes, then he and
deputy commissioner Bill Daly uncomfortably answered questions for what seemed
like an eternity. Video below, but here are a few of the highlights:

  • • “The owners … said they don’t know what happened, but this
    process is over.”
  • • “Anything we put on the table this week is off the table.”
  • • “[Five-year max length on player contracts are] the hill we’ll
    die on.”

So as far as rhetoric goes, we are to understand that the
owners are done talking for right now, they are actually moving backwards on several
key positions, and a human being could be martyred over one of these
issues in particular. Because those are all perfectly reasonable attitudes to take.

Obviously, there is so much more to this story, and we have
some great links to go with the Bettman videos, but here is what you need to
know – that is if you still care of course. All is not lost just yet. There is –
well, there was anyway – a framework for a CBA that had people on both sides optimistic. If discussions pick back up
next week, the frost could thaw, and hockey may yet ring in the New Year.

Worst case scenario: this lockout is the hill the NHL will
die on. Such a shame, because its future looked so bright.

Read More:

>> NHL rejects union's offer as talks break down [CSN]
>> Four owners release statement, express 'disillusionment' [Puck Daddy]
>> You have got to be kidding me [ESPN]

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Instant Replay: No. 1 Villanova 78, Providence 68

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Instant Replay: No. 1 Villanova 78, Providence 68


Seniors Josh Hart and Kris Jenkins combined for 44 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists and No. 1 Villanova held off Providence, 78-68, in a Big East game at the Wells Fargo Center Saturday afternoon.
Villanova extended a four-point halftime lead to as much as 20 points before hot-shooting Providence closed to within nine with five minutes left. Villanova then went on a 13-3 run to put the game out of reach.
Hart had 25 points, five rebounds and four assists for the Wildcats, and Jenkins added 19 points, four boards and four assists. Both shot over 50 percent.
Sophomore Mikal Bridges scored 15 points, matching his Big East career high, and also had three rebounds and three assists, and Jalen Brunson contributed 13 points to go with three rebounds and four assists.
Providence stayed in the game by shooting 13 for 26 from three against the No. 3 three-point shooting defense in Division 1.
What it means
Villanova improved to 19-1 overall and 7-1 and in first place in the Big East. The Wildcats have won five in a row since losing at Butler on Jan. 4.
Providence fell to 13-8 and 3-5 in the conference and 1-6 on the road. The Friars have lost six of eight since an 11-2 start.
Villanova is now 47-34 all-time at the Wells Fargo Center but 14-2 in its last 16 games at the South Philly arena.
Stat of the day
Providence shot better from three (50 percent) than two (44 percent). The Friars made 13 threes and just nine two-pointers.

Turning point
Providence trailed by just four at halftime at 35-31, but Bridges opened the second half with a steal and fast-break reverse layup and a jumper from the top of the key to start an 8-0 run that gave Villanova a 12-point lead. The Friars never got any close than eight points the rest of the game.
By the numbers
• Providence’s 50 percent shooting from three is the highest against ‘Nova since North Carolina shot 65 percent in the national championship game on April 4 in Houston.

• Villanova’s bench scored just two points.

• Providence’s 13 threes are the most by a Big East team against Villanova since Doug McDermott and Creighton had 21 in a 28-point win three years ago this week.

• Rodney Bullock led Providence with 17 points (3 for 5 from three), Jalen Lindsey added 14 (4 for 7 from three) and Isaiah Jackson came off the bench to score 12 (3 for 3 from three).

• Darryl Reynolds' last two double-digit rebound games have both been against Providence.
What's next
Villanova travels to Milwaukee for a Tuesday night game against Marquette. The Golden Eagles are 12-6 overall and 3-3 in the Big East with a game later Saturday at Creighton.
Villanova has won nine straight games against Marquette, since the Golden Eagles — then ranked No. 17 — came back from 18 points down to win 82-78 at the Wells Fargo Center in January 2012.