NHL reaches agreement
The National Hockey League (NHL) and union representing its locked-out players reached agreement on drug testing and player safety on Friday, but did not address the core economic issues standing in the way of a new labor deal. “We’re taking baby steps right now.” Mathieu Schneider, a special assistant to the NHL Players Association’s executive director, told reporters in New York. “We are not really discussing anything that has to do with the core economics,” he said. The NHL locked out its players on Sept. 16 when the previous labor deal expired with the two sides at odds over how to divide a US$3.3 billion revenue pie. The lockout, which is the NHL’s fourth work stoppage in 20 years, has already forced the league to cancel its entire preseason schedule.
Twins drop Nishioka
Japanese infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka was released on Friday by the Minnesota Twins after a disappointing year with one season remaining on his Major League Baseball contract. The 28-year-old Osaka native was dropped for a US$250,000 buyout to avoid playing him US$3 million next season in the final year of a deal signed in 2010. Nishioka, who helped Japan win the 2006 World Baseball Classic, suffered a broken leg in a collision with New York Yankees outfielder Nick Swisher after playing only 68 games in the 2011 season. Nishioka, who had batted .226 with 19 runs batted in and 14 runs scored before the injury, went hitless in three at-bats for the Twins this season and spent most of the season with their top developmental team, hitting .258 with two home runs and 34 runs batted in over 101 games.
Children’s coach fired
The coach of a children’s gridiron team in suburban Los Angeles and the league president have been suspended after allegations in the Orange County Register by parents of a bounty scheme. The bounty system, allegedly used last season to provide payments to 10-year-olds and 11-year-olds for deliberately injuring opponents, follows a similar scheme that led to National Football League bans this year for the New Orleans Saints. The report says parents claim coach Darren Crawford and an assistant offered players on the Red Cobras of the Tustin (California) Junior Pee Wee league cash for hard hits that knocked football rivals out of playoff games. One player suffered a mild concussion as a result of such a hit. National Pop Warner officials said that Crawford and Pat Galentine, who serves as president of the Tustin league, have been suspended until an investigation into the claims has been conducted.
Kane to play in KHL
Winnipeg Jets forward Evander Kane has reached a deal to play for Dinamo Minsk of the Russia-based Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) for the duration of the National Hockey League (NHL) lockout. Kane became the first Canadian player to sign with a KHL team even as NHL officials and players union leaders renewed talks in hopes of saving a full NHL season in the wake of club owners locking out players almost two weeks ago. The Belarus club announced the agreement on Friday, exactly 40 years to the day after Canada defeated the Soviet Union in ice hockey’s legendary Summit Series. Kane scored 30 goals for the Jets last season and signed a six-year NHL contract extension worth US$31.5 million just before the lockout began.