Sports Extra

NHL

On the lockout’s 54th day, the two sides meet again

NEW YORK – After more than five hours together on the third consecutive day of negotiating, the NHL and players’ association agreed to meet again today to try to reach a deal on a new collective bargaining agreement.

Neither side revealed much of what was discussed Thursday at a Manhattan law firm. Both NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and union executive director Donald Fehr held short media scrums on the wind-blown street in front of the once-secret location of the talks.

The work stoppage reached its 54th day, and this week is considered critical for the hockey season to be saved. The lockout is threatening to force the second cancellation of an NHL season in seven years.

Even if an agreement is reached soon, it isn’t clear if any of this season’s games that have been called off through Nov. 30 can be rescheduled. The NHL already has said a full 82-game season won’t be played.

Thursday’s discussions marked the fourth time in six days that face-to-face negotiations have taken place after both sides rejected proposals Oct. 18. The lockout, which began Sept. 16 after the collective bargaining agreement expired, forced the cancellation of 327 regular-season games, including the New Year’s Day Winter Classic in Michigan.

Miami Heat honoring the ice with their ‘hockey assists’

MIAMI – There’s nary a pair of skates visible in the Miami Heat locker room, no bucket of pucks in the practice facility and no Zamboni following the team around, either.

Still, there’s at least one hockey principle that’s in the mind of the reigning NBA champions so far this season: With emphasis on ball movement, the Heat currently are into what’s known as “hockey assists” – essentially, the pass that sets up the pass that sets up the score.

In hockey, it’s typical for two players to be credited with having passes to set up a goal, and while it’s hardly an NBA statistic, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra is working it into his team’s repertoire as well.

“If anything, it’s a compliment to the game of hockey,” Heat center Joel Anthony said. “We’re recognizing the different types of ways they reward players for making the extra pass. Hockey acknowledges it a lot more. There’s no stat for it in basketball, but we still acknowledge that. Spo’ recognizes that and wants to make sure we know it’s extremely important.”

Anthony would seem to be the resident Miami expert in this field. After all, he’s the Heat player who hails from Canada – hockey’s epicenter.

Cycling

Sky is falling on Team Sky: Two hospitalized this week

CHORLEY, England – Tour de France champion Bradley Wiggins was released from the hospital Thursday after a collision with a car, a few hours after a separate crash left his British cycling coach with a head injury.

Wiggins, who also is the Olympic time trial champion, suffered bruises to his ribs and hands when he was hit by a car while out training on his bike.

After suffering minor injuries, Wiggins “is expected to make a full and speedy recovery,” Team Sky’s Dr. Richard Freeman said.

Wiggins returned home just as Britain coach Shane Sutton was hospitalized after bruising and bleeding on the brain.

Ski Racing

Without the men’s downhill, Vonn will focus on Aspen

STOCKHOLM – Lindsey Vonn will skip the first World Cup slalom of the season in Finland this weekend, choosing instead to prepare for home races in Colorado.

U.S. Ski Team spokesman Doug Haney said Vonn “has had an incredible preparation period” so far, but she will focus on the only U.S. stop on the women’s circuit Nov. 24-25 in Aspen.

Vonn’s request to compete in a men’s World Cup downhill race was rejected Saturday by the International Ski Federation. A four-time overall World Cup champion, Vonn would’ve skipped Aspen if she were allowed to race against the men.

Associated Press