Talks resume today between NHL, union
• The NHL and the players’ association stuck to their word and made quick plans to get back to the bargaining table. After all-day negotiations Saturday, the sides agreed Monday to resume talks today in New York. Both sides said the discussions over the weekend were good, creating some optimism that perhaps a deal could soon be reached to save the already truncated hockey season.
The NHL and union hadn’t met since Oct. 18 when each side turned down offers. NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly and players’ association special counsel Steve Fehr got together by themselves Saturday in an undisclosed location and held productive talks.
“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 said Sunday.
He and Fehr talked on the phone several times during the week and reached enough common ground to make face-to-face meetings possible.
Fehr echoed Daly’s encouraging remarks after Saturday’s get-together that lasted well into the night.
“Hopefully we can continue the dialogue, expand the group, and make steady progress,” Fehr said.
It wasn’t immediately determined Monday whether today’s bargaining session would be conducted by just Daly and Fehr or if a larger group — perhaps including NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA Executive Director Donald Fehr — would also take part.
The lockout entered its 51st day Monday. So far, 327 games — including the outdoor Winter Classic — have been called off, and the NHL said a full season won’t be played.
No new formal proposals were made Saturday, but it is believed the issue of payments of existing player contracts was a big part of the discussions.
A major point of contention between the NHL and the players’ association has been the “make whole” provision, which will ensure that all current player contracts will be paid out regardless of any changes made to the split of hockey-related revenues or contract language.
• Buffalo Sabres forward Thomas Vanek is returning to North America after completing an 11-game stint playing for his hometown team in Graz, Austria. In an entry Vanek posted on his website Monday, the player wrote he’s on his way back to Buffalo now that Graz is entering a break in its schedule. He had five goals and 10 assists for the Erste Bank Eishockey Liga team.
Kentucky coach to finish season
• Kentucky officials said that fired football coach Joker Phillips will be on the sidelines for the Wildcats’ final two regular season games. After Kentucky announced Sunday that Phillips had been fired and Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart said the move would be effective at the end of the season, spokesman DeWayne Peevy later said that Phillips’ status for the final two games had not been undetermined.
• Nebraska coach Bo Pelini said Rex Burkhead’s status for this week’s game against Penn State is unclear. The All-Big Ten running back has missed all or part of seven games because of an injury to his left knee. Pelini said Monday that Burkhead had been “pushing really hard” in his rehabilitation and had shown signs of improvement.
• Boise State football coach Chris Petersen confirmed that senior nose tackle Mike Atkinson will miss the rest of the season after tearing an ACL in Saturday’s loss against San Diego State.
• Nebraska men’s basketball coach Tim Miles announced that freshman guard Deverell Biggs will sit out this season as a redshirt.
Scotland fires Levein as manager
• Craig Levein was fired as manager of Scotland after the national soccer team opened its qualifying campaign for the 2014 World Cup with two draws and a pair of defeats. Billy Stark, the coach of the national under-21 team, will select the squad and take charge for an exhibition match against Luxembourg Nov. 14.
• The U.S. women’s team will play three exhibitions against China in an eight-day span next month, with new coach Tom Sermanni watching as an observer. The Americans said they will play China at Detroit’s Ford Field on Dec. 8, at Houston’s BBVA Compass Stadium on Dec. 12 and at FAU Stadium in Boca Raton, Fla., on Dec. 15.
Murray posts win in ATP finals opener
• Andy Murray, the reigning U.S. Open champion, playing at home in Britain for the first time since winning his first major title two months ago, wasted 10 break points before finally finding his game and beating Tomas Berdych 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 in the opening match of the ATP finals in London. Top-ranked Novak Djokovic beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 7-6 (4), 6-3 in Group A. Djokovic and Murray will play Wednesday.
• Usain Bolt, Aries Merritt and David Rudisha are the finalists for the World Athlete of the Year award. Track and field’s governing body said Monday that they had the most votes in a three-week poll. The winner will be announced during the IAAF’s centenary celebrations in Barcelona on Nov. 24.
• USA Luge is getting new race suits designed by Valiant Entertainment. Valiant, one of the leading comic character-based entertainment companies, will design competition and practice race suits for the team through 2014.
— From wire reports