A grim update on the NHL lockout

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A grim update on the NHL lockout

From Comcast SportsNetDie-hard hockey fans might need to invest in some classic NHL games on DVD.It might be the only taste of hockey for months.There's no telling when the NHL lockout will end, especially when neither the league nor the NHLPA has committed to face-to-face negotiations to end the labor unrest. There were no formal talks Sunday on the first day of the lockout, the league's fourth shutdown since 1992, including a year-long dispute that forced the cancellation of the entire 2004-05 season when the league successfully held out for a salary cap.And there are no formal talks planned.The league issued a statement to fans on its website that it was "committed to negotiating around the clock to reach a new CBA that is fair to the players and to the 30 NHL teams."The clock is ticking and there's no new collective bargaining agreement in sight. The league could start to announce this week the cancellation of preseason games and there's little chance training camps will open on time. The regular season is scheduled to begin Oct. 11, but that obviously is in peril.Day 1 of the lockout could serve as a preview for the next several cold months: Empty rinks, empty talk."This is a time of year for all attention to be focused on the ice, not on a meeting room," the league said. "The league, the clubs and the players all have a stake in resolving our bargaining issues appropriately and getting the puck dropped as soon as possible. We owe it to each other, to the game and, most of all, to the fans."Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby, Chicago's Jonathan Toews and Colorado's Gabriel Landeskog were among the players participating in an NHLPA video to fans that was posted on YouTube. With black-and-white photos of each player as a backdrop, they talked about how much the game meant to them, and thanked fans for their support."We understand the people that suffer the most are the fans," Crosby said.Some players won't wait for labor talks to pick up -- they've already packed up.As of Sunday morning, all NHL players were free to speak to other leagues. Many will land in Russia's KHL, and two big names already signed. Pittsburgh center Evgeni Malkin and Ottawa defenseman Sergei Gonchar agreed to deals with Metallurg. More will surely follow.Malkin, a 26-year-old center with the Penguins, is the NHL's reigning MVP. The 38-year-old Gonchar is a defenseman who helped lead the Senators to the playoffs last season.Although the club provided no further details of their contracts, it said that they would comply with KHL regulations on signing NHL players during the lockout. Under these rules, KHL teams can sign a maximum of three NHL players above their limit of 25.The KHL also sets the ceiling for the salaries of NHL players at a maximum of 65 percent of what they earn under their NHL deals. Malkin has two years and 16.5 million remaining on his deal with Pittsburgh. Gonchar has one year and 5.5 million left with Ottawa.Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Kimmo Timonen and forward Scott Hartnell are part owners of a team in the Finnish league. Timonen, a father of three children, said it would be hard to immediately consider playing overseas unless the entire season was wiped out. But Timonen returned to his native Finland to play in 2004, and clearly understands why some young players are interested in finding a roster spot in Europe."A lot of young guys are asking if there's a spot to play," he said. "I'm sure our team can take a few of the guys, but not many."Many of the players, 25 years and younger, could end up in the AHL, the NHL's primary minor league. No matter where they play, the players are prepared for a lengthy wait to return to the NHL.The core issue is money -- how to split a 3.3 billion pot of revenue. The owners want to decrease the percentage of hockey-related revenue that goes to players, while the union wants a guarantee that players annually get at least the 1.8 billion in salaries paid out last season.While the NHL lockout might not destroy the whole season -- like in 2004-05 -- a sizable chunk of games could be lost without any productive talks on tap."I'm sure we will remain in contact," NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said. "But there are no negotiations planned or scheduled at this point."Teams are prepared for the likelihood the season will not start on time. And so they are making economic plans on several fronts. At the end of each month, for instance, the Buffalo Sabres will refund any games that are canceled by the NHL.The Minnesota Wild, meanwhile, fresh off a free-agent spending spree that landed them forward Zach Parise and defenseman Ryan Sutter, will send out ticket policies on Monday."We support the league's position and trust our NHL negotiating team is looking out for the long-term interests of the game," the Wild said in a statement. "Even as NHL games may be missed, the Wild will continue to support the great sport of hockey at all levels through our grass roots partnerships with amateur hockey associations."Minnesota defenseman Steven Kampfer was fired up to report for training part in part to see what it would look like to have those prized free agents -- Parise and Suter -- in uniform to ignite a franchise that missed the playoffs last season."It was going to be really exciting to see our lineup with those two acquisitions," Kampfer said. "I guess we'll just have to wait a little longer."Parise and Suter signed on the same day in July as the Wild made a statement to the rest of the league that they wanted to be true players in the Western Conference. But that will have to wait."It's a frustration situation to go through because you never want a work stoppage," Kampfer said. "But we're trying to fight for what's fair for both the owners and players. Everybody wants more money. The owners want to keep more of their profits and the players want their fair share of the profits. As players, we have full confidence that (NHLPA executive director) Donald Fehr will do his job to get us the best deal that he can."For now, most teams seem to be stable financially. The cancellation of games may change that, but for the time being, the panic button has not been pushed. Penguins spokesman Tom McMillan, for example, said the team has no plans on layoffs "at this time."In jeopardy are some key dates on the calendar: the New Year's Day outdoor Winter Classic at 115,000-seat Michigan Stadium between the host Detroit Red Wings and the Toronto Maple Leafs; and the Jan. 27 All-Star game hosted by the Columbus Blue Jackets, one of the league's struggling small-market teams.The Blue Jackets put out a statement Sunday supporting the league, but did not mention the All-Star game."The league, the clubs and the players all have a stake in resolving our bargaining issues appropriately and getting the puck dropped as soon as possible," the team said. "We owe it to each other, to the game, and most of all, to the fans."NHL players struck in April 1992, causing 30 games to be postponed. This marks the third lockout under Commissioner Gary Bettman. The 1994-95 lockout ended after 103 days and the cancellation of 468 games."Like any partnership, you want both sides to benefit," Crosby said in the video. "I think that's the case here. As players we want to play."But we also know what's right, what's fair."

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Wizards vs. Grizzlies: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

Wizards vs. Grizzlies: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

John Wall, Bradley Beal and the Washington Wizards host Marc Gasol and the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday night as they aim to continue rising the ranks of the NBA's Eastern Conference. Here is all you need to know: TV, live stream and radio info, tip-off time, plus three things to watch…

WASHINGTON WIZARDS vs. MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES

Where: Verizon Center
Tip-off: 7 p.m.
TV: CSN (coverage begins at 6:30 p.m.)
Live stream: CSNmidatlantic.com
Radio: 1500 AM

Three things to watch...

Wizards get another shot

The Wizards and Grizzlies will close their season series on Wednesday night as the Wizards get their turn to host the matchup. The Grizzlies beat the Wizards in Memphis on Oct. 30 and it was one the Wizards felt got away from them. They had a chance to win before center Marc Gasol hit a game-tying three at the end of regulation. The Wizards then got blown away in overtime where the Grizzlies outscored them 12-3.

Gasol's three-pointers - he also hit a big one in overtime - took the Wizards by surprise. Now they know that is a part of his game, as he's hitting 39.1% of them this season, a respectable clip for a 7-footer.

Bradley Beal will also look for a better game this time around. He was limited to just 14 points on 5-of-17 shooting in October.

[RELATED: Next 15 games set table for Wizards' season]

Conley is back

The Wizards went to Memphis for the second game of the season and at that time Grizzlies star point guard Mike Conley was sidelined with a back injury. He has since returned to their lineup to have a strong season. He's second on the team with 19 points per game. He's also posting 6.2 assists and 1.3 steals a night.

Conley should provide another test for John Wall, who has been playing very good defense as of late. Conley averaged 19.5 points on 53.3% shooting against the Wizards last season.

The Grizzlies will also have veteran Tony Allen available after not having him in the first matchup. He is still getting it done defensively with 1.8 steals per game at the age of 35.

Shooting percentage

The Wizards have won 12 straight at home in large part due to the fact they shoot an impressively high percentage at home. Only the Warriors shoot better than the Wizards (48.7%) at home this season.

That will be put to the test on Wednesday night, though, against a Grizzlies team that is exeptional at making their opponents take tough shots. They are third in basketball in opponents field goal percentage, limiting teams to just 43.5% from the field. They allow a league-low 34.2 field goal makes per game. The Grizzlies are also pretty good on the road with a winning record at 11-10.

[RELATED: Wall gives his Eastern Conference All-Star starters]

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Mic picks up Packers trainer telling Cowboys' Tony Romo 'you deserve better'

Mic picks up Packers trainer telling Cowboys' Tony Romo 'you deserve better'

When longtime Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo lost his starting job to rookie Dak Prescott, there was general consensus that Prescott won the job fair and square when Romo got injured.

Romo himself said as much. But there are still people around the NFL who feel Dallas didn't do right by their 10-year starter. 

As Romo was leaving the field after the Cowboys lost to the Packers in the playoffs, Pepper Burruss, Green Bay's director of sports medicine, approached him. A microphone picked up Burruss saying what sounds like, "You deserve better." 

Take a listen. 

It's possible Burruss could have meant something else, like Romo deserved better injury luck. Maybe. 

Also keep in mind that Romo may have been leaving the field as a Cowboy for the final time of his career. What a note to leave on...

The 36-year-old has said he still wants an opportunity to start in the NFL. That won't happen in Dallas, so it's likely he'll move on to another team this offseason. 

According to Adam Schefter on ESPN Radio, the Cowboys may be willing to trade Romo to the team of his choice. 

Speculation has linked him to the Broncos, Bears, Jets and Texans.

MORE REDSKINS: Redskins interviewed internal candidate for DC