Mediators join NHL talks
Federal mediators are entering the stalled NHL labor talks, which have led to the first two-and-a-half months of the regular season being canceled. Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS) director George Cohen said on Monday he had assigned three mediators to assist in negotiations to end the lockout. Cohen said the parties had agreed to use the assistance of the FMCS and that deputy director Scot Beckenbaugh, director of mediation services John Sweeney and commissioner Guy Serota will join the talks. Cohen has worked with the players’ associations for Major League Baseball, helping end the 1994 to 1995 strike as an outside counsel, and the NBA. He was an adviser to the NHL players’ union before joining the FMCS three years ago. Cohen mediated during the 2010 negotiations in Major League Soccer and last year’s talks in the NFL and NBA, along with this year’s dispute between the NFL and its on-field officials. Hockey players and management have not negotiated since Wednesday last week. The NHL has canceled more than 34 percent of its regular season, including all games through Dec. 14, the New Year’s Day outdoor Winter Classic and the All-Star weekend scheduled for Jan. 26 to Jan. 27 in Columbus, Ohio.
Rays reach Longoria deal
The Tampa Bay Rays reached a US$100 million contract extension with Evan Longoria that could keep the three-time All-Star third baseman with the club through the 2023 season, the Major League Baseball team said on Monday. The deal maintains terms of Longoria’s contract through 2016 and extends six more years through 2022 for an additional US$100 million. The deal also includes a club option for 2023. “Evan has all of the attributes we seek in a player,” Rays executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said in a statement. “His determination and work ethic inspire others around him. He is devoted to his craft and strives to improve himself every year, and he defines success in terms of team performance and achievement.”
Wright suspended for doping
Tampa Bay cornerback Eric Wright has been suspended for four games for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs. Wright, who was signed by the team in the off-season, had an appeal rejected by the league. Coach Greg Schiano confirmed the suspension. “I am extremely disappointed that the suspension was upheld at my appeal,” Wright said in a statement. “I apologize to the entire Tampa Bay Buccaneers organization, my teammates, our great fans and my family who have stood by me through this entire process.” Earlier this season, the Buccaneers (6-5) also lost cornerback Aqib Talib, who was hit with a four-game suspension for the same offense.
Cunningham caught doping
New England Patriots defensive end Jermaine Cunningham has been suspended four games for violating the NFL policy on performance-enhancing substances, the league said on Monday. Taken in the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft, Cunningham registered 2.5 sacks in 11 games this season for the AFC East division-leading Patriots (8-3). Cunningham will be eligible to return to his team’s active roster on Dec. 24, in time for New England’s regular season finale against Miami on Dec. 30, the NFL said in a statement.