Even more bad news for hockey fans

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Even more bad news for hockey fans

From Comcast SportsNetNEW YORK (AP) -- What seemed inevitable for the NHL has become reality. The league canceled the first two weeks of the regular season on Thursday, the second time games have been lost because of a lockout in seven years.The announcement was made in a two-paragraph statement. It isn't clear if those games will be made up, allowing for a complete 82-game regular season, if a deal can be struck soon with the locked-out players.Unable to work out how to split up 3 billion in hockey-related revenues with the players' association, the NHL wiped out 82 games from Oct. 11-24 -- beginning with four next Thursday, which would have been the league's opening night."We were extremely disappointed to have to make today's announcement," NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said in a statement. "The game deserves better, the fans deserve better, and the people who derive income from their connection to the NHL deserve better."We remain committed to doing everything in our power to forge an agreement that is fair to the players, fair to the teams, and good for our fans. This is not about winning' or losing' a negotiation. This is about finding a solution that preserves the long-term health and stability of the league and the game. We are committed to getting this done."The union countered Thursday by saying the NHL forced the lockout onto the players instead of letting the season go on as planned."The decision to cancel the first two weeks of the NHL season is the unilateral choice of the NHL owners," NHLPA Executive Director Donald Fehr said in a statement. "If the owners truly cared about the game and the fans, they would lift the lockout and allow the season to begin on time while negotiations continue."A lockout should be the last resort in bargaining, not the strategy of first resort," he added. "For nearly 20 years, the owners have elected to lock out the players in an effort to secure massive concessions. Nevertheless, the players remain committed to playing hockey while the parties work to reach a deal that is fair for both sides. We hope we will soon have a willing negotiating partner."Although there have been negotiations between the league and players in recent days -- unlike a three-month break at the start of the 2004-05 lockout that forced the cancellation of the entire season -- the two sides haven't gotten any closer to a deal on core economic issues."Obviously, (cancellations) might have been expected but it's also disappointing because we set out to negotiate," New York Rangers goalie Martin Biron said in a telephone interview. "We wanted to get a deal and wanted to avoid a work stoppage or any cancellations."We're still working hard to find a solution and find a way to get the core economic stuff figured out with the league and getting a deal that is fair for everybody and lasts."In the previous lockout, the NHL and the union didn't get together between early September and early December.Back then, the key words in the negotiations were salary cap, linkage and cost certainty. Commissioner Gary Bettman and the owners were committed to getting a deal that linked team costs to revenues, so each club would know exactly how much it had to spend on payroll and what number it couldn't exceed.Thus a salary cap was born for the first time in NHL history. The league produced record revenue during the seven years of that deal, which turned out much better for the players than expected.There are no major philosophical issues this time as there were with the salary cap fight, but the sides are far apart in financial figures. Players received 57 percent of hockey-related revenue in the deal that expired Sept. 15, and the NHL wants to bring that number below 50 percent -- perhaps as low as 47 percent.The players' association, led by Fehr -- the former baseball union chief -- has rejected that idea."The leadership that we have with Don and his team is really trying to look at the big picture and not just a number," Biron said. "We understand that there is some tweaking and some things that have to be fixed in our proposal, but it seems that the owners are on a one-way mission to cut salaries."The NHL claims the union hasn't done near enough to try to get closer to the league's proposal and appears willing to wait for the NHLPA to come around.Daly said the league had already lost 100 million in revenues from canceled preseason games. The players will begin feeling the real sting when they don't get their first paychecks of the season on Oct. 15.During the last lockout, Bettman followed through on his vow to cancel the season if a deal wasn't reached by a February deadline. A new collective bargaining agreement wasn't completed until July, long after major damage had been done. It marked the first time a North American professional sport lost an entire season to a labor dispute.In 2004, Daly announced Sept. 29 that there wouldn't be any hockey in October. New proposals and negotiations in December and January did little to push the sides toward a settlement, and Bettman announced Feb. 16 that the season had been lost. It marked the first time since a flu epidemic in 1919 that the Stanley Cup wasn't awarded.Earlier this week, U.S. Sens. Frank Lautenberg and Robert Menendez of New Jersey sent a letter to Bettman and Fehr, urging them to consider the economic impact on their state if the dispute isn't resolved.The letter warned that the absence of New Jersey Devils' games in Newark could mean millions of dollars in lost economic activity and jobs in especially tough economic times. The Devils advanced to the Stanley Cup finals last season, creating a financial boost to the city just five months ago.Now, the lockout comes on the heels of the NBA's Nets moving from Newark to Brooklyn, N.Y.Lautenberg renewed his call for a settlement after the games were called off Thursday."This cancellation of regular-season hockey games is a blow to businesses and workers in Newark and in hockey towns across the country," he said in a statement. "Local jobs and millions of dollars of economic activity are being placed at risk every day that this dispute continues."The NHL should keep in mind communities, workers, and families that are being hurt by its decision to pursue a lockout and cancel these games. Owners and players must find a way to start the season before the economies in Newark and other communities are further damaged."Fehr responded in a letter Tuesday, and offered to meet with the senators in New Jersey."As you observed, far too many people in Newark and other NHL cities will suffer as a result of this decision, including players," Fehr said in his letter, regarding the lockout. "We are currently working with players to identify small business owners who will be affected to see what we can do during this period."Unfortunately, the lockout was no surprise. Months ago, the owners made public their intention to lock out the players, and they did so the first chance they legally could. There was nothing the players could have done to prevent it -- other than to agree to the enormous concessions the owners demand."

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Morning tip: Bradley Beal excited for test in Warriors' Klay Thompson, Steph Curry

Morning tip: Bradley Beal excited for test in Warriors' Klay Thompson, Steph Curry

Before Sunday's game between the Wizards and the Jazz, Utah head coach Quin Snyder said John Wall and Bradley Beal are the NBA's best backcourt. When asked a follow-up to that statement about whether that means the Wizards' guards are better than Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson of the Golden State Warriors, Snyder clammed up. 

Well, on Tuesday night at the Verizon Center we will get to see some real evidence in the debate, as the Wizards host the Warriors [6:30 p.m. on CSN] in a matchup of one of the best teams in the East against the best team in the West. It's a showdown between arguably the two best guard combos in basketball and Beal, for one, is looking forward to it.

"A game like this is always circled for me. It's a big game, it's a game that is really going to test who you are. You have to show up. I think that's the way John and I both view it," Beal explained. 

"Every time we have the challenge of another backcourt, we always want to win it. Our approach is that we are going to dominate as best as we can. That's our mindset. At the same time, we don't try to get too caught up in backcourt vs. backcourt, but at the end of the day it's a competitive thing and it's always fun when you're playing against some of the best players in the world and the best team in the world."

Curry and Wall are firmly established among the best point guards in the NBA, but both play very different styles. Both can score, but Wall is more of a distributor and is better on defense. Curry is known for his lights-out shooting from three-point range. Both can handle the ball, but Wall is faster and Curry is quicker in tight spaces.

Beal and Thompson are much closer to each other in style of play. Both are two-way shooting guards who can catch-and-shoot from distance with the best of them. Earlier this season, Wizards coach Scott Brooks broke down Thompson's film with Beal and Beal himself can see the similarities between them.

"I think our game is a little bit different in a variety of ways, but similar as well. I can definitely take how he moves without the ball out of his book. His catch-and-shoot ability is ridiculous. There are some things I can take from him, but not too much. I try to develop into my own player. He does a lot of things that I definitely steal from him, too," Beal said.

Given Curry and Thompson have already won a title and have been to two NBA Finals, many fans would give them the edge. But with Wall and Beal both having career seasons, the comparison isn't crazy at all if you look at the numbers:

Stephen Curry - 24.9 ppg, 6.3 apg, 4.4 rpg, 1.7 spg, 47 FG%, 41.5 3P%
Klay Thompson - 22.1 ppg, 2.1 apg, 3.8 rpg, 47.5 FG%, 42.2 3P%

John Wall - 22.9 ppg, 10.7 apg, 4.5 rpg, 2.1 spg, 45.2 FG%, 31.2 3P%
Bradley Beal - 22.6 ppg, 3.6 apg, 2.9 rpg, 1.0 spg, 47.8 FG%, 39.9 3P%

[RELATED: Beal on Durant: 'I didn't think he was going to come here']

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Need to Know: Examining five Redskins first-round mock draft picks

Need to Know: Examining five Redskins first-round mock draft picks

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, February 28, 1 day before the March 1 NFL franchise tag deadline.  

Timeline

Days until:

—NFL Combine (3/2) 2
—Start of NFL free agency (3/9) 9
—Redskins offseason workouts start (4/17) 48
—NFL Draft (4/27) 58
—First Sunday of 2017 season (9/10) 194

Comments on five first-round Redskins mock draft picks

Derek Barnett, OLB, Tennessee, Chris Burke, SI.com

Burke says: There is more of a need in Washington for help between the tackles than another edge presence. Barnett, though, is strong enough and active enough to play hand in the dirt up front at times, which would max out how many athletes the Redskins can get on the field in their front seven.

Tandler says: I get that you can’t have too much pass rush but the Redskins have four legit edge rushers with Kerrigan, Smith, Murphy, and Galette. Even given that Galette’s injury status makes him a question mark and Smith’s inconsistency, you need to have something up front to make the edge rushers effective.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 4.0

Forrest Lamp, G Western Kentucky, Daniel Jeremiah, NFL.com

Jeremiah says: Lamp could play either guard or center for the Redskins.

Tandler says: That’s great but the Redskins are set at center and at one guard spot. They could stand to upgrade at left guard but I think that if the Redskins go guard in the first round for the second time in three years Jay Gruden’s head just might explode.

Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford, Charley Casserly, NFL.com

Casserly says: Thomas is a solid run defender who can give you an inside pass rush as well.

Tandler says: Thomas has a heck of a motor and he plays the game as it should be played. His pre-combine weight is listed at 273. That would make him another edge player, see the issue with Barnett above. But if he weighs in around 290 in Indianapolis and the Redskins think he could put on a few more pounds he could be in play.

DL Malik McDowell, Michigan State, Josh Norris, Rotoworld.com

Norris says: Scot McCloughan had a target in last year’s draft. Many believe it was Ryan Kelly. I doubt the NFL views a center in this class worthy of the No. 17 overall pick. McDowell would really help Washington’s defensive front.

Tandler says: Not sure why Norris takes a walk down memory lane to last year’s draft but McDowell could be the guy the Redskins need to shore up the interior D-line. There are questions about his consistency but if those are straightened out he’s a real possibility.

More Redskins: #RedskinsTalk podcast: Is Kirk too nice for his own good?

Budda Baker, S, Washington, Pete Prisco, CBSSports.com

Prisco says: They had real shaky play from their safeties last season. This is a kid who can step in and give them range and the ability to tackle in the run game.

Apparently Prisco isn’t familiar with the history of the safety position in Washington or he would have talked of issues during “the past decade” rather than “last season”. At 180 lb. Baker is on the small side but he hustles, hits, and has coverage skills good enough to cover slot receivers. He would be a great first-round pick but perhaps they could trade down lower, somewhere into the mid-20’s, and still get him there.

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Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.