Two sides agree: Talks have been good


Two sides agree: Talks have been good

Most recent stories of NHL and NHLPA negotiations, or lack thereof, have been gloomy.

Few talks, abrupt ends to those that have taken place, and angry words from each side have been prevalent.

But on Saturday, something unusual happened: the two sides talked, and talked for a while. They talked until the early morning hours on Sunday, actually. And for the first time in weeks, theres actually some reason to be optimistic.

NHL commissioner Bill Daly and NHLPA special counsel Steve Fehr met at an undisclosed location on Saturday, and the two sides will reportedly meet again early this week. Daly and Fehr talked until after 1 a.m. Eastern time, according to various reports.

And get this: they agreed on something.

We had a series of meetings over the course of the day and had a good, frank discussion on the most important issues separating us, Daly told

I agree with what Bill said, Fehr said in a statement. Hopefully we can continue the dialogue, expand the group and make steady progress.

Agreeing they had a good, frank talk. Hey, for two sides who couldnt agree on who ended a negotiating session in August, thats definitely a positive.

Saturdays talks were the first since mid-October, when the two sides parted not so amicably. The NHL came with a proposal featuring a 50-50 split in hockey-related revenue, whatever its true definition may be. The players association came with three proposals, including one that went 50-50 in the first year as long as the league honored existing player contracts. Talks went south quick, as the league said the two were speaking different languages.

So Saturdays news was good news. And if it helps both sides to keep meeting at secret locations, by all means keep doing it. Tuck yourselves away in some tiki bar in Florida if need be. If taking all the rhetoric and the saidhe said out of the negotiations leads to this getting done quicker, hide away.

Its something. Its progress. And its a glimmer of hope in negotiations that have had very little.

Holy cow: Cubs advance to World Series for first time since 1945

Holy cow: Cubs advance to World Series for first time since 1945

The Cubs are going to the World Series.

Yes, you read that right.

The Cubs are going to the World Series.

The Curse of the Billy Goat is broken. 

The 71-year drought is over. 

The truly once-in-a-lifetime moment has finally come to Chicago.

Holy cow.

The Cubs punched their ticket to the promised land with a 5-0 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Best Pitcher on the Planet in front of 42,386 fans in the most euphoric moment in Wrigley Field's history.

Theo Epstein's vision is one step closer to coming to fruition.

"History doesn't really weigh on this club," Epstein said before Saturday's Game 6. "Just trying to win tonight's game. 

"These guys - a lot of them are in their early 20s and they're not burdened by that stuff. The organization isn't. It's just about trying to win and keeping it simple."

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The Cubs drew first blood off Clayton Kershaw, keeping with the tradition of the team that scores first winning the game in this National League Championship Series.

After waiting until two outs in the fifth of Kershaw's Game 2 start to get their first baserunner, the Cubs jumped on him early as Dexter Fowler lined the third pitch down the right field line for a leadoff double.

Kris Bryant followed with an RBI single and then Andrew Toles dropped Anthony Rizzo's fly ball in left field and just like that, the Cubs were up 1-0 and had runners on second and third with nobody out.

Ben Zobrist drilled a sac fly to center field and the Cubs moved to the second with a critical two-run lead.

From there, they added on with a Fowler RBI single in the second, a Willson Contreras homer in the fourth and then a Rizzo solo blast in the fifth.

Kershaw allowed only two singles to the Cubs in seven shutout innings in Game 2, but lasted just five innings in the NLCS clincher, surrendering five runs (four earned) on seven hits.

The Cubs felt they let too many good pitches go by in the early count in the previous Kershaw start, so they vowed to be more aggressive this time around and it paid off.

Kyle Hendricks was brilliant on the mound, allowing only two hits in 7.1 shutout innings.

After getting shut out in back-to-back games and going down 2-1 in the series, the Cubs battled back and scored 23 runs over the final three games to punch a ticket to the World Series.

The Cubs will head to Cleveland to take on the Indians in Game 1 of the World Series Tuesday night.

Games 3, 4 and 5 (if needed) will be back at Wrigley next Friday, Saturday and Sunday for what would figure to be the craziest Halloween weekend the city has ever seen.

Blackhawks rally to beat Maple Leafs in shootout

Blackhawks rally to beat Maple Leafs in shootout

Richard Panik tied the game against his former team and Artemi Panarin got the shootout winner as the Blackhawks came back to beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-4 on Saturday night.

The Leafs took a 3-2 lead late in the second period courtesy of James van Riemsdyk. But the Leafs have struggled in third periods this early season – entering Saturday’s game they were outscored 6-1 in that frame – and the Blackhawks were the latest team take advantage of that.

Artem Anisimov scored two goals, including one with 2:28 remaining in regulation to bring the Blackhawks to within 4-3. Then a minute later, Panik, who was with the Toronto Marlies when he was traded to the Blackhawks last season, tied the game at 4-4.

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Scott Darling stopped 30 of 34 shots in regulation and overtime for the victory.

Tyler Motte scored his second goal in as many nights. Anisimov’s first goal gave the Blackhawks an early 1-0 lead.

The Blackhawks had six power plays in this one, including two in overtime. But couldn’t capitalize. Their first advantage in overtime (4-on-3) was easily their best.

The Blackhawks went on the penalty kill once but it was costly yet again, with William Nylander scoring on the Leafs’ lone power-play shot. Nylander would also score an even-strength goal, off an Auston Matthews rebound, in the third period.