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Sunday April 20 2014
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Congratulations, Gary Bettman. After all the years of criticism, work stoppages and mismanagement, you—and your league—finally get it.

NHL commissioner Bettman gets what groundbreaking NFL commish Pete Rozelle did and current leader Roger Goodell does not. “It” is about connecting. Not separating.


One example is the the wonderful HBO series “24/7,” which is slowly but surely accomplishing for the NHL what NFL Films did for the NFL. Bringing the game to the people.


Far outweighing that example, however, is the transparency with which the NHL is handling an issue that threatens the very core of both leagues: head injuries.

Sports fans in Pittsburgh are familiar with the issue, for which Steelers linebacker James Harrison has become the poster boy. While I'm not one to put any stock in the absurd “NFL Hates the Steelers” conspiracy, it's abundantly clear that the NFL is handing the issue horrendously. There is no consistency, there is no one explaining anything—to the players or the fans—and there seems to be a total lack of understanding throughout the league as to what the rules are, let alone how they are enforced.

The NFL Players Association deserves some of the blame for this after they loudly complained about the league's suspension-policy last season, yet signed off on the exact same policy during last year's collective bargaining negotiations. Basically, the players gave the thumbs-up to letting Roger Goodell do whatever he wants without any explanation. Some have said that Goodell runs his NFL the way Vladimir Lenin ran his Russia, but that guy at least had everyone on the same page. Seems to me Goodell runs it more like Vladimir Putin – not very well. And, of course, we all know what James Harrison thinks of Goodell.

But at the other end of the spectrum is the NHL and their vice president for player safety, former All-Star  Brendan Shanahan. Every time the league rules on a suspension, Shanahan explains the entire decision-making process in a well thought-out, clearly-illustrated, informative and publicly-distributed video.


While I've seen the videos in the past, the first time I truly examined one was during last month's incident involving Penguins defenseman Deryk Engelland, who was suspended for three games for his hit on Chicago forward Marcus Krüger. I disagreed with the length of the suspension. Still do. I think one game would have been a significant punishment and a sufficient deterrent. But the league's willingness to put Shanahan front and center—with a rational, logical, and transparent explanation—increased my willingness to accept it.


The NHL is reaching out to the players and to their fans, explaining why this heavy-handed enforcement is necessary and how it can be avoided. Will there be disagreements along the way? Of course. And at times, the league will likely be wrong and someone will get treated unfairly.

But players—and fans—will respect the process more. And that's the first step in changing things for the better.

It’s all starting to make sense. The Steelers have not made the playoffs the past two seasons. Those two years have seen the team part ways with players who were integral to a sustained run of success that resulted in a pair of Super Bowl championships.
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The play of Penguins captain Sidney Crosby has a tremendous impact on every game the team plays. Whatever success the Penguins have in the Stanley Cup Playoffs will depend largely on the opposition’s ability to contain No. 87. But he is not doing it alone.
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A champion won't be crowned in the NHL for nearly two months, but the quest for hockey's holy grail begins now. Sixteen teams are lacing up their skates and preparing for the upcoming hunt for the Stanley Cup. Here are the four favorites.
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Pirates' righthander Charlie Morton put an exclamation point on his recovery from Tommy John surgery in 2012 with the best major league season of his career, posting 7-4 record with a 3.26 ERA.
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The newest crop of rookies will enter the NFL on May 8, when the 2014 NFL Draft gets underway at Radio City Music Hall in New York. The Houston Texans own the first selection, and it's a South Carolina defensive end who sits atop PSR's board.
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The Steelers’ offseason additions and subtractions have given a peek into what may be going on in the team’s South Side War Room as the team prepares for one of the deepest drafts in years. Several players have emerged as potential targets for the Black and Gold in 2014.
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Several local players could be off the board before the second round is completed on May 9. Pitt's Aaron Donald is the top prospect, but Penn State has a pair of players who expect to hear their names called early as well.
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The 2014 NFL Draft is shaping up to be one of the deepest in recent memory. But even in the deepest of drafts, there are studs, duds, snubs and flubs. How is one to know if a draft pick is worth cheering for, or if he should be booed mercilessly?
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