NHL lockout comes to an end

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NHL lockout comes to an end

Updated: 8:40 p.m. CT

After months' worth of drama, rhetoric, talking and not talking, the NHL and NHLPA have finally agreed to a deal that will salvage part of the 2012-13 season.

The two sides agreed to a tentative 10-year collective bargaining agreement, according to reports, ending a lockout that swallowed up much of the 2012-13 schedule. The deal, which was reached a little before 4 a.m. CT, came after a marathon negotiation session that went more than 16 hours in New York.

Commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr spoke to the media briefly this morning.

"We've reached an agreement on framework of the CBA, the details of which need to be put to paper," Bettman told reporters. "We've got to dot a lot of 'Is' to cross a lot of 'Ts,' but basically the framework has been agreed upon. We have to go through ratification process. The board of governors and players will have to approve. We'e not in the position to give any information. Well be back to you very shortly, hopefully later today, with more information."

Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews, via text, was "really happy" that the lockout was finally over.

"A lot of credit goes to the players who were in the bargaining sessions and worked very hard to get a deal done," Toews said. "I'm excited to play hockey again, although it's bittersweet because a lot of damage was done to our game. As players we need to keep showing our fans we care. We might have a long road ahead of us there, but for now it's great to know well be back on the ice very soon."

RELATED: Range of emotions emerge as lockout comes to an end

Now its a matter of when training camp and the regular season will begin. Its most likely to be a 48-game regular-season, although its still possible to squeeze in 50. Many athletes who were playing with European teams are working to return home. Patrick Kane, who played the past few months for EHC Biel in Switzerland, is headed home according to agent Pat Brisson.

He's home tomorrow, Brisson said via email. He is very excited and looking forward to play.
"Hopefully, in a very few days, fans can get back to watching people who are skating and not the two of us.-- Donald Fehr, on the end of the NHL lockoutCSNPhillys Tim Panaccio, who was in New York for the negotiations, reported that the 2013-14 salary cap, will be 64.3 million. The league originally wanted it to be 60 million and wasnt budging on that for some time. The cap floor will be 44 million. For 2013-14, the Blackhawks currently have 57.2 million of cap payroll spent on 17 players.

The cap for the remainder of this season is 70.2 million. And players' maximum length of contracts is now reportedly seven years (eight if the player is re-signing with his current team).

One of the first people Bettman thanked was federal mediator Scot Beckenbaugh, who was a key component in these negotiations down the stretch. Beckenbaugh, who had had several fruitless meetings with the two sides in the past, helped bridge the gap between the league and NHLPA this weekend. Beckenbaugh spent about 13 hours on Friday going between the two groups before they all got together on Saturdayearly Sunday.

Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service director George H. Cohen recognized Beckenbaugh in a statement early today.

"I want to recognize the extraordinary contribution that my colleague, Scot Beckenbaugh, Deputy Director for Mediation Services, made in providing assistance of the highest caliber to the parties throughout the most critical periods in the negotiations," Cohen said.

Said Beckenbaugh declined comment to reporters, other than to say, "I'm as famous as I want to be."

Dates for training campsregular-season starts have not yet been announced. And Fehr, standing with Bettman, probably echoed the sentiments of many with his closing statement to reporters.

"Hopefully, in a very few days, fans can get back to watching people who are skating and not the two of us," he said.

Preview: Cubs-Dodgers tonight on CSN

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Preview: Cubs-Dodgers tonight on CSN

The Cubs take on the Dodgers on Wednesday, and you can catch all the action on Comcast SportsNet. Coverage begins with Len Kasper and Jim Deshaies from Wrigley Field at 7 p.m. Be sure to stick after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on Cubs Postgame Live.

Wednesday's starting pitching matchup: Jon Lester (5-3, 2.48 ERA) vs. Mike Bolsinger (1-1, 4.50 ERA)

Click here for a game preview to make sure you're ready for the action.

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— Channel finder: Make sure you know where to watch.

— Latest on the Cubs: All of the most recent news and notes.

— See what fans are talking about before, during and after the game with Cubs Pulse.

 

Watch: Chris Sale loses to fan in rock-paper-scissors, pays up with autograph

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Watch: Chris Sale loses to fan in rock-paper-scissors, pays up with autograph

Chris Sale has a terrific 9-1 record this season.

His rock-paper-scissors record is not nearly as good.

Sale played a high-stakes game of rock-paper-scissors against a fan at Tuesday night's White Sox-Mets tilt at Citi Field, and the South Side ace didn't fare so well.

He was a good sport, though, honoring the challenge and paying up with an autograph.

Take a look:

Fun times at the ballpark. And a cool moment featuring the guy who could wind up starting the All-Star Game.

How Hector Rondon transformed into dominant closer for Cubs

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How Hector Rondon transformed into dominant closer for Cubs

Hector Rondon is still good friends with Danny Salazar and Carlos Carrasco, two Cleveland Indians pitchers often linked to the Cubs in trade rumors. To the point where Salazar called Rondon during the offseason wondering if they were about to become teammates at Wrigley Field.

Rondon worked out separately with Salazar and Carrasco at the Indians’ complex in Arizona during different points in their recoveries from Tommy John procedures on their right elbows. Rondon mentions differences in their personalities and pitching styles and also marks that time in Goodyear by associating Salazar and Carrasco with his own different surgeries.

Instead of developing into a Salazar or a Carrasco — the kind of frontline starter the Indians envisioned when they named him their minor league pitcher of the year in 2009 — Rondon has transformed into a game-over closer for a Cubs team with the best record in baseball.

After missing almost three full seasons — and pitching 10 innings combined between 2011 and 2012 — Rondon now understands he doesn’t have the luxury of time or the ability to work through situations like a starter. He accepts the pressure and uses the adrenaline that comes from working the ninth inning in front of 40,000 fans. He is a survivor.

“Be aggressive,” Rondon said. “You have to kill the guy — or they kill you. That’s what I tell (myself). That’s why I always try to attack. I try to keep that in my mind to (always) be aggressive with the hitters.”

The “holy s---” moment for pitching coach Chris Bosio came during a bullpen session with Rondon in the second half of a 2013 season where the Cubs would lose 96 games, hours before a meaningless game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park.

The Cubs finished with 101 losses the year before, which put them in position to select Kris Bryant with the No. 2 overall pick in the June amateur draft. Completing that race toward the bottom also created another opportunity for Theo Epstein’s front office — the second pick in the Rule 5 draft at the 2012 winter meetings.

Around that time, major-league coaching staff assistant Franklin Font worked winter ball for Leones del Caracas — the same team Rondon was pitching for in Venezuela — and filed good reports. The Cubs would carry Rondon and allow him to develop a routine and slowly realize he could compete at this level.

As Rondon kept firing pitches to bullpen catcher Chad Noble that day in Pittsburgh, Bosio could see the potential that made him such a well-regarded prospect for the Indians — and the ability to think on his feet and make adjustments.

The Cubs suggested adding a hesitation mechanism to Rondon’s windup, a gathering point at the top of his delivery to improve his fastball command and tighten his slider as a put-away pitch. The idea was to create better alignment toward home plate and help stop him from spinning off the rubber. The sense of timing and motion would also help bump up his velocity toward triple-digit territory.

“It’s like when you plant that seed, and you wait to see that plant come up out of the ground,” bullpen coach Lester Strode said. “That’s what he’s done. He’s just continued to grow, and every year he’s gotten better.”

Rondon got the last three outs in a 2-0 Memorial Day victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers as the Cubs bullpen combined for seven perfect innings, something a team hadn’t done in 99 years, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

That made Rondon 9-for-9 in save chances — with a 1.04 ERA and 27 strikeouts and only two walks against the 63 batters he’s faced so far this season.

Both Rondon and Joe Maddon identified a turning point last year, when the manager took closing responsibilities away from him and gave him a mental break and the chance to reset. Rondon responded with a 30-save season, putting up a 1.10 ERA after the All-Star break and converting his final 11 save chances for a 97-win team.

“He’s just been more assertive,” Maddon said. “The biggest thing I think that happened from that episode when he was not closing, per se, was he started using his other pitches and he found his other pitches. He’s more of a pitcher (now) when it comes to closing games as opposed to just being this primal, one-pitch kind of a guy.

“So now when you see him, it’s not just about trying to pump fastballs the whole time he’s out there. He’s throwing slider, split, changeup, dotting his fastball. I just think that he got more into pitcher mode from that particular episode.”

Rondon’s story is the story of the Cubs during the rebuilding years, how they became the biggest story in baseball. It’s calculated risk, good scouting, effective coaching and a relentless attitude. From the rubble of fifth-place finishes in 2012, 2013 and 2014, the Cubs found a lights-out closer.

“He worked tirelessly,” said Strode, who’s now in his 28th season in the organization. “Even the days he got out there and didn’t have success, he didn’t come back with his head down the next day. It’s like he learned something from every outing.

“I’ve seen a lot of guys with his ability who think things are just going to happen — and they don’t have to work. He was totally the opposite. He worked hard. He grinded every day, day in and day out. And finally it clicked.”