Blackhawks aren't discouraged by negative negotiations

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Blackhawks aren't discouraged by negative negotiations

As the weekend begins, this much is known: the NHL and NHLPAs talks Thursday ended in acrimonious fashion, and there will be no hockey through Nov. 1.

Even with all that, players remain optimistic a deal can be done.

The league canceled another round of games on Friday, this time through Nov. 1. Yes, it was another round of tough news, but hardly unexpected. There was no way there would have been a new collective bargaining agreement in place soon enough to play games Oct. 25 through the first of November. The league stopped short of that Nov. 2 date they were hoping, at least as of earlier this week, would be the start of a salvaged 82-game season.

And while there will be no hockey through the rest of October, players hope talks will resume soon.

As players, were trying to stay positive and not overreact to the lack of progress yesterday, Jonathan Toews said after practice on Friday. Were still confident the proposals we came up with were very positive and effective for both sides. Well go with that and see what happens next week. As long as were talking, somethings going to happen.

The league proposed its 50-50 deal on Tuesday; and on Thursday the players association responded with three proposals of their own all of which got to 50-50 at some point during the proposal term. NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr said the groups third option began immediately at 50-50, as long as owners honored players existing contracts. NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly later disputed the NHLPAs claims on its third proposal, saying it was most likely a 56- to 57-percent deal, not 50-50.

Talks stalled quickly, and the dour tones of both commissioner Gary Bettman and Fehr snuffed out any developed optimism.

Its to be expected. Its not going to be one of those things where, after an offer, were going to lay down or after our proposal theyre going to lay down, Patrick Kane said. But you still have to look at the positive. Somethings out there; somethings being worked on to be negotiated. You cant get too up and down in this process.

Kane was just about set to sign with a European team earlier this week, changing his mind when it looked like talks could lead to something. Kane is still planning on playing in the Champs for Charity game, which former Blackhawks teammate Adam Burish helped organize, on Oct. 26. After that game, and depending on whats happening between the league and NHLPA, Kane may revisit his European options.

So the players will practice on while the league and NHLPA brass, hopefully, keep trying to work something out. Being ready, especially physically, wont be an issue for most of the players; theyve been skating on a regular basis here.

It all comes down to when things are worked out off the ice.

We know (Thursday) wasnt the best day, said Toews, who was in those meetings in Toronto. It doesnt mean we dont keep moving forward and keep working toward trying to get where we want to go.

Preview: White Sox start series at Twins tonight on CSN

Preview: White Sox start series at Twins tonight on CSN

 

The White Sox take on the Twins on Friday, and you can catch all the action on Comcast SportsNet. Coverage begins at 7 p.m. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on White Sox Postgame Live.

Today’s starting pitching matchup: Jose Quintana (8-8, 2.97 ERA) vs. Ricky Nolasco (4-8, 5.40 ERA)

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Preview: Cubs host Mariners today on CSN

Preview: Cubs host Mariners today on CSN

The Cubs take on the Seattle Mariners on Friday, and you can catch all the action on Comcast SportsNet. Coverage begins with Cubs Pregame Live at 12:30 p.m.. Then catch first pitch with Len Kasper and Jim Deshaies. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on Cubs Postgame Live.

Today’s starting pitching matchup: Jon Lester (10-4, 3.09 ERA) vs. Hisashi Iwakuma (11-6, 3.96 ERA)

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Are Cubs done dealing? ‘Wouldn’t put anything past’ Theo

Are Cubs done dealing? ‘Wouldn’t put anything past’ Theo

Are the Cubs done dealing? Theo Epstein might be the baseball executive you’d least want to play poker against, and his team didn’t stop after winning 97 wins last season – committing almost $290 million to free agents – or hold onto the organization’s top prospect when the New York Yankees wanted Gleyber Torres in the blockbuster Aroldis Chapman trade.

“I wouldn’t put anything past him,” pitching coach Chris Bosio said.

That win-now impulse led the Cubs to Chapman, who instantly raised the energy level at Wrigley Field on Thursday night just by walking in from the bullpen, wowing more than 40,000 fans with his 100-mph heat and getting a four-out save to close out a 3-1 win over the White Sox.

“As fans of the game, you always see what Aroldis does,” first baseman Anthony Rizzo said. “If he’s pitching, and you’re flipping through the channels, you stay on him just to see what he does, because he’s that type of player. What he does for our bullpen now is just incredible.”

This is the blueprint for October with enough timely hitting, a quality start from John Lackey, Pedro Strop working the seventh inning and manager Joe Maddon calling for Chapman to replace Hector Rondon with a runner on third and two outs in the eighth. Chapman threw Melky Cabrera six straight fastballs that registered between 98.6 and 102.3 mph on MLB.com’s Gameday, striking him out swinging.

“I was ready,” Chapman said through temporary translator/catcher Miguel Montero said. “I’m pretty pumped to be part of it.”

While the Cubs unveiled grand plans to construct a future World Series winner, Bosio became the no-nonsense foreman supervising a crew of veterans, short-timers and sign-and-flip guys.

Ex-manager Dale Sveum and coaches like Bosio, Mike Borzello and Lester Strode installed the game-planning system and did the grunt work to build up Ryan Dempster, Scott Feldman, Matt Garza, Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel, putting in all that effort only to see them shipped off to playoff contenders in trade-deadline deals.

That roster churn yielded Kyle Hendricks, Jake Arrieta, Strop, Justin Grimm, Carl Edwards Jr., Addison Russell, Hammel returning as a free agent and a trade chip (minor-league outfielder Billy McKinney) used in the Chapman deal.

“To be able to get a guy like him is a big step for the organization,” Bosio said. “It definitely sent ripple effects to everybody who’s a Cubs fan. I got so many phone calls and text messages.

“This one got a lot of people’s attention. Not just in baseball, but all over the world. He’s a headline guy coming to a headline city.”

Like virtually everyone else, the Cubs are looking for younger starting pitchers who come with years of club control, because right now only Hendricks and Jon Lester can be penciled into the 2018 rotation (when the $155 million lefty will be 34 years old).

The Cubs also can’t ignore the offense, even after pouring so much capital into their lineup, because Jason Heyward’s .632 OPS ranks 151st out of the 157 qualified major-league hitters, Montero is hitting .198, Willson Contreras will be making rookie adjustments and Kyle Schwarber’s left-handed presence will be missed even more against elite pitching in October.

If the Yankees decide to sell another rental player – and the Cubs are willing to mortgage their farm system – Carlos Beltran would be a good fit as a switch-hitter with an excellent track record as a playoff performer (16 homers, 40 RBI and a 1.155 OPS in 52 postseason games).

“There’s still a good amount of time before the trade deadline,” Epstein said this week. “So we’re going to engage with every other team and see if there’s an opportunity to get better. Either tweaks to the roster now, but I’d say it’s more focused on getting additional depth for this season and possibly making a move that makes sense for our longer-term picture, next season and beyond.”

The Cubs have until Monday afternoon’s non-waiver deadline to try to complete the World Series puzzle. Why stop with Chapman during an all-in season?

“Now we’re the ones looking to add pieces, whether it be a bat or a pitcher,” Bosio said. “I wouldn’t put anything past ownership or the front office, because they know how much we’ve invested into this year, and how hard it is just to win a major-league game.”