the NFL doesnt want to

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the NFL doesnt want to

Postby shushu » 14 Mar 2019, 03:09

TORONTO – Doing just enough to lose hockey games, the Maple Leafs playoff chances are dangling on an ever-thinning thread. They matched their second-longest losing skid of the year on Saturday evening, making an error too many in their fourth straight loss, a stinging 4-3 defeat to Montreal at the ACC. Falling further back of the Canadiens – now a five-point gap – and the surging Lightning for the final two spots in the Atlantic division, Toronto is hanging onto to the first wild card position in the East, in danger of falling out altogether if change doesnt come soon enough. “Weve been close, but close isnt good enough right now,” said Dion Phaneuf of four straight losses, all against fellow Eastern contenders vying for a spot in the post-season. Like in narrow losses to Washington, Detroit and Tampa previously, the Leafs shot themselves in the foot just a time or too many on this night, dropping the season series to Montreal in the process. “The margin of error now in these games is so, so, so close that one bounce or one misplay or one unfortunate mistake cost us points,” said head coach Randy Carlyle afterward. A stumbling start and more ineffective goaltending certainly didnt help matters, but it was simple errors in execution that ultimately set the stage for another defeat. Most notable among them were mistakes from two of the teams best players. There was an early and careless neutral zone turnover from Phil Kessel that fed the Canadiens first goal and a later failure from Dion Phaneuf to clear the puck that found the back of the net on Tomas Plekanecs eventual game-winner. “We worked hard,” said Carlyle, his team rallying from a pair of deficits. “[But] we have to work equally as hard and clean up some of the mistakes that we make. Turn the puck over in the neutral ice and it comes back to haunt you. Make a mistake on a turnover penalty killing and it comes back and haunts you. Those are difference-makers in the games and thats what happens when the intensity ramps up in all these games.” Running wild with points in the weeks before and after the Olympic break, Toronto had not lost four straight since the early days of January. They vaulted to 11 wins in 14 games after that stinging streak, requiring a similar resurgence now to keep hold of a second straight playoff berth. The sky may be falling in certain pockets of the city with memories of the infamous 18-wheeler still fresh, but in reality the Leafs situation is not dire to the point that they cant right themselves with 10 games to play. Theyve lost a series of close games of late, doing just enough to lose on each given night. Losses count the same though and that tide – now trending in the negative with clubs in Detroit, Washington and Columbus hunting them down – has to start shifting for the better in a hurry with the Devils up next on Sunday night. “Were still in a good spot,” said Phaneuf, ever optimistic afterward. “Obviously weve slid a little bit because of not winning games, but were still right there.” Five Points 1. Stunted Starts Toronto allowed the first goal for the sixth consecutive game and 37th time this season, actually falling behind by two for the fourth time in those six games. And while they managed to erase that deficit in short order, the trend of digging early holes is a definite negative at this point in the year and any point for that matter. “Its tough coming back,” said James Reimer of the constant need for rallies. “Weve proven that we can do it. Weve got enough character and desire in here to fight back in games, but it obviously makes it a lot tougher on ourselves.” Capitalizing on Kessels giveaway on the opener from Max Pacioretty, Montreal jumped ahead by two on a Rene Bourque breakaway, the Canadiens winger storming by the pair of Cody Franson and Jake Gardiner before beating Reimer with a weak shot glove-side. “I think maybe we just all need to be a little sharper when it starts and obviously me included,” said Reimer. The Leafs dropped to 11-22-4 when yielding the first goal this season. 2. Just Okay Reimers inability to fill the hole left by Jonathan Bernier continued Saturday with the 26-year-old yielding four goals on 36 shots. He owns a .899 save percentage during six appearances in place of the teams injured No. 1. Though he made some fine stops in allowing his team to rally from the early 2-0 hole – including a glove stop just moments before Joffrey Lupul scored the Leafs first goal – Reimer ultimately could not deliver enough of the timely big saves required for victory. This was evident on Plekanecs game-winner. Reimer slid right to left on Andrei Markovs cross-ice feed to Plekanec, but could not keep the shot – from just above the goal-line – from finding a slight hole. “I feel like its a tough bounce,” he said. “Obviously they made a good play to put it through the seam, but I thought I gave myself a chance to get over there, but it just found a way through.” Reimer remains winless on home ice since Jan. 15, last winning a start on Jan. 21. Bernier meanwhile continues to inch back from a groin injury, but not quickly enough for the teams recent fortunes. The 25-year-old skated for a third straight day Saturday morning, but will miss his fifth straight game Sunday against the Devils. “He still has some issues as far as hes not 100 per cent,” said Carlyle, “so until hes 100 per cent hes not available to us.” 3. Slow Ride A slogging rehabilitation of nearly five months finally came to an end Saturday for Dave Bolland, who returned to the Toronto lineup against Montreal. It was the first game for the 27-year-old since Nov. 2, when a tendon on the outside of his left ankle was sliced by the skate blade of Canucks forward Zack Kassian. He missed 56 games. “Hes progressed along over the last three weeks to a point where he feels and the doctors feel medically thats he close to a 100 per cent ready,” said Carlyle, wary of driving up expectations for Bolland, a favourite of his upon landing with the Leafs last summer. “I dont want to put too much emphasis on him specifically because when a player hasnt played in 60 games its a lot to ask of him to come back in and be where he wouldve been coming out of training camp and playing with our hockey club early in the season.” Bollands addition gave Carlyle his first full group of forwards at any point this season with neither injuries nor suspensions on the docket. All of which allowed him to comfortably employ four lines in the fashion he may have imagined at the start of the year. Indicative of a balanced attack and a considerable shift from recent weeks and much of the year, Colton Orr was the lone forward to play fewer than eight minutes against Montreal. “It gives you a little bit more depth throughout your lineup, a veteran guy, and it kind of slots people more into where we envisioned them at the beginning of the year,” said Carlyle, who reunited Bolland with Mason Raymond and David Clarkson. Bolland, whom the Leafs made room for by sending Carter Ashton and Peter Holland to the Marlies, was lost to injury in early November just a week after Tyler Bozak went out with a hamstring issue, drastically affecting the teams depth at centre ice. He played nine minutes against the Canadiens, keeping his shift lengths short at just 33 seconds. “That first shift was probably the hardest,” Bolland said. “Its getting the timing and figuring things out out there. You sort of got to get used to it. I think the heartbeat was hurting a little bit too.” 4. Secondary Offence Joffrey Lupul and Nazem Kadri had combined for four goals in the previous 14 games, but landed a pair against the Canadiens. Lupul fired a rocket by Carey Price for the Leafs first goal midway through the first, Kadri depositing a feed from his 30-year-old teammate on a power play goal later which evened the score at three. With Phil Kessel and the teams top line cooling some in recent days – they did account for the second Toronto goal with Tyler Bozak notching his 16th – contributions from the likes of Lupul and Kadri will be required in the final weeks of the regular season. Toronto forwards had only seven goals in the previous six games, but accounted for all three on Saturday. 5. Ranger on the Mend Paul Ranger was in predictable shock in the immediate aftermath, but realized hed be okay when he was able to move his legs, hands and feet. Reversing to his left with less than five seconds remaining in the first period of a Wednesday tilt with Tampa, the 29-year-old was drilled from behind by Lightning forward Alex Killorn. He was helped off the ice on a stretcher, his teammates looking on with concern. “I remember just feeling pain,” said Ranger, suffering a neck injury on the play. “I know that my body and my mind just went into preservation mode. All I could think was just dont move, stay straight and breathe. I just kind of breathed three in, three out for the next 3-4 hours.” Ranger was taken to a local hospital that night, assessed and discharged. He remained off the ice for a third straight day Saturday and did not play against the Canadiens, his impending return to the line-up uncertain. Though he received word from Killorn in the aftermath of the collision, believing that no harm was intended, the Whitby, Ontario native nonetheless hopes that hits from behind receive more attention and study for improvement. “I think its something that happens a lot in our game and its dangerous,” he said. “Im thankful Im really strong physically and really fit and I think that really helped and probably saved me a little bit in this situation. I wouldnt want anyone else to go through that period, but especially someone whos maybe not as strong or not as heavy you could say.” Stats-Pack 212 – Man games lost to injury for the Leafs this season, including 56 from Dave Bolland, who returned from an ankle injury against Montreal. 2-2-1 – Leafs record versus the Canadiens this season. 9:01 – Ice-time for Dave Bolland in his first game since Nov. 2. .899 – Save percentage for James Reimer since Jonathan Bernier went out with injury. 5 – Number of 20-goal seasons for Joffrey Lupul, who scored his 20th of the year against Montreal. 8:54 – Ice-time for David Clarkson on Saturday, his lowest of the season. 11-22-4 – Leafs record this season when they allow the first goal. Special Teams Capsule PP: 1-2 Season: 20.7% (T-4th) PK: 2-2 Season: 78.5% (28th) Quote of the Night “Weve been close, but close isnt good enough right now.” - Dion Phaneuf, following the Leafs fourth straight loss. Up Next The Leafs visit the Devils in a Sunday night affair at the Prudential Center. Adidas Ron Hainsey Jersey . -- The taxing preseason, which included two games in China, is finally over. Adidas Nick Bonino Jersey . Halak, 28, split his eighth NHL seasons between the St. Louis Blues, Buffalo Sabres and Washington Capitals, compiling a 29-13-7 record in 52 games. . Dwyane Wade took over in the fourth quarter. Adidas Chad Ruhwedel Jersey . -- Matt Rupert scored once in regulation and again in the shootout as the London Knights extended their win streak to nine games by defeating the Owen Sound Attack 4-3 on Friday in Ontario Hockey League action. Adidas Jarred Tinordi Jersey . -- The Chiefs have signed seven players to reserve/future contracts, including running back Joe McKnight, a former fourth-round pick of the New York Jets.The NFL has reached a $765 million settlement with its retired players over concussion-related lawsuits. There were over 220 lawsuits filed by 4500 players, including Tony Dorsett, Eric Dickerson, Mark Rypien, Tony Mandarich, Art Monk, Jim McMahon and Jamal Lewis, as well as the estate of the late Junior Seau. Make no mistake – these lawsuits fundamentally changed the sports landscape and the sports discussion as it relates to player safety across all sports. Lets look at some of the key takeaways from the settlement. Werent these lawsuits just about players complaining about risks they knew about? No. More please. The key allegation raised by the players was that the NFL concealed information. The players argued that the NFL knew of the long-term neurological impact of headshots and didnt share their findings and information with the players. Players like former Bears QB Jim McMahon knew there was some risk associated with playing football. However, he along with about 4500 other retired NFL players, contend that the NFL had better information about the potentially devastating impact of repeated headshots and deliberately concealed this information from NFL players. The players were basically saying this: We knew there was some risk of harm with playing football but not this level of debilitating injury. The NFL, however, knew of the risk and didnt share that with us. So concealment is a really important part of these lawsuits? Yes very important. As important as avoiding picking Alfred Morris in the first round of a PPR fantasy league. Who would have won at trial? Cant say at this point. Everything turns on the evidence presented at trial. To win, the players needed to show that the NFL had key information about the long-term and devastating impact of headshots and didnt share that with the players (so back to concealment). They would have needed a smoking gun so to speak. The NFL had some good arguments defending their position. First, they would have argued that players were aware of the risk associated with playing football and agreed to those risks each time they stepped onto the field. They would have also maintained that they didnt conceal anything. As well, the NFL would have pointed out that no one can say for sure what caused a players dementia, and even if it was caused by repeated headshots while playing football, how much of that damage was sustained outside the NFL in places like college or high school ball. So what caused the dementia and when it was caused become important issues. Theres more. The NFL argued early on that these lawsuits didnt belong in court in the first place, but rather should have gone to arbitration. The collective bargaining agreement provides that issues of player health and safety go to arbitration and not court. On the flip side, the players argued that since this case involved fraud, it properly fell outside of arbitration and within the jurisdiction of the courts. Bottom line is this: both sides faced challenges in this case and thats where we generally see settlement. The NFL is paying out $765 million as part of the settlement? Who wins with this settlement – the players or the league? The NFL did well. While $765 million is a lot of money, it breaks down to about $4 million per team in each of the first 3 years and then another few hundred thousand dollars per team for the next 17 years. The upfront payment of $4 million is by NFL standards a modest sum of money. To put it in perspective, thats what Falcons RB Steven Jackson will make this year. There was the potential a jury could have come back with a big monetary award against thee NFL in the billions of dollars.dddddddddddd This settlement helps the NFL avoid that type of potentially catastrophic award. So $765 million is a big number. Very big. But once disbursed across the leagues 32 teams, it becomes manageable. These lawsuits also generated a lot of negative press for the NFL. There were discussions focused on the death of the league. NFL MVP Adrian Peterson declared he didnt want his kid to play football because the sport was too dangerous. By settling these cases, the NFL can now look to change the conversation about football. Thats really important. Ok – how did the players do? This case was going to settle. It was surprising, though, to see it settle this early. For the players, an early pressure point would have been to force the NFL to produce sensitive documents going back decades. Thats something any business would not want to do, including the NFL. Still, the settlement suggests that the players had concerns with their case. Ultimately, though, this is not a bad deal for the players. Does this settlement mean the NFL is saying they were wrong and liable for this mess? No. The NFL expressly said that they are not admitting liability. Why wouldnt the NFL admit guilt? First – and this is key – they dont want to go on the public record saying they are guilty. If they did, a retired player could sue them and rely on that statement. As you can imagine, an admission of guilt would be a pretty powerful weapon for a plaintiff to use against the NFL. As well, from a PR standpoint, the NFL doesnt want to characterize itself as the villain in all this. Finally, the NFLs position is that they are not responsible. So why admit to something you are not convinced you did. Wait a minute – retired players could still sue despite settlement? Yes. The settlement agreement will bind about 18,000 retired NFL players. Specifically, it applies to every NFL player that is retired at the time the Court rubber stamps the settlement agreement. That could happen in the near future. However, a player has the option to opt-out of the settlement agreement. If a player believes that he can do a lot better filing his own individual lawsuit, he would tell the court and the NFL thanks but no thanks, Im headed to court. Ultimately, the player would sit down with his lawyers and figure out what makes most sense. One more point – the Court has to be satisfied that the settlement is adequate and reasonable before it approves it (thats right – the Court has to approve the agreement). If it concludes the agreement is not fair, it may not approve it. So theres another reason the NFL didnt admit liability – what if the agreement is not approved. Expect the deal to be approved by the court and close to all players agreeing to the terms of settlement. Will we see new lawsuits filed by current players? Those would be tough to win. The focus of the retired player lawsuits was that players were unable to make informed decisions about playing football because the league concealed information about the devastating impact of repeated headshots. Today that information is readily available. So it would be very tough for a current player to argue that he did not have enough information to make an informed decision. Dont see it. So whats next? Wait and see if any other players opt-out of the settlement and head back to court. Does this settlement affect my fantasy lineup? Should I have drafted Lamar Miller? No, your fantasy lineup is unaffected. As for Lamar, he should have a good season as the Dolphins lead back. A-Rod makes me angry. Thats a separate column. ' ' '
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