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Press Box: NHL, NHLPA meet, more talks planned

The SportsXchange

NHL

The NHL and NHLPA met Friday in Toronto and plan to speak again this weekend, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told ESPN.com via email.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr and union counsel Steve Fehr also attended the meeting.

Daly told ESPN there was nothing more to report.

The meeting comes one day after the league canceled the opening two weeks of the regular season. At issue is a disagreement regarding how to split $3 billion in hockey-related revenues.

In announcing the cancellation, Daly issued the following statement:

"We were extremely disappointed to have to make today's announcement. The game deserves better, the fans deserve better and the people who derive income from their connection to the NHL deserve better.

"We remain committed to doing everything in our power to forge an agreement that is fair to the players, fair to the teams and good for our fans.

"This is not about 'winning' or 'losing' a negotiation. This is about finding a solution that preserves the long-term health and stability of the League and the game.

"We are committed to getting this done."

A total of 82 regular-season games were cancelled, a necessary step in the absence of a collective bargaining agreement between the NHL Players' Association and the NHL.

"The decision to cancel the first two weeks of the NHL season is the unilateral choice of the NHL owners," NHLPA Executive Director Donald Fehr said in a statement Thursday. "If the owners truly cared about the game and the fans, they would lift the lockout and allow the season to begin on time while negotiations continue.

"A lockout should be the last resort in bargaining, not the strategy of first resort," he added. "For nearly 20 years, the owners have elected to lock out the players in an effort to secure massive concessions. Nevertheless, the players remain committed to playing hockey while the parties work to reach a deal that is fair for both sides. We hope we will soon have a willing negotiating partner."

Though the sides have met in recent days, they haven't gotten closer to settling core economic issues. No new discussions are planned.

---ESPN will broadcast hockey this season.

The cable sports network announced Friday that it will carry at least seven KHL games this season on ESPN3 in the U.S. and on ESPN in the U.K.

Coverage begins Oct. 9 with a game between Lev and Dynamo Moscow, which recently signed Washington Capitals' star Alex Ovechkin.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones isn't a fan of going to class.

"Why should we have to go to class if we came here to play FOOTBALL, we ain't come to play SCHOOL classes are POINTLESS," he posted on Twitter Friday, according to an ESPN.com report.

That tweet and Jones' account have been removed, but not before multiple media outlets discovered Jones' words.

Jones plays behind Braxton Miller and Kenny Guiton on the Buckeyes' depth chart and hasn't played a down for Ohio State.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL

Kentucky landed two of the nation's top basketball recruits in one swoop, when twins Andrew and Aaron Harrison of Richmond (Texas) Travis High committed to the Wildcats.

"We liked coach (John) Calipari's fire to win and we want to win a national championship," Andrew told ESPN.com.

Added Aaron: "Also, Coach Calipari didn't guarantee anything and we liked that."

The Harrisons twins selected Kentucky over Maryland and SMU.

The twins are the highest-rated basketball twins to come out of high school. Andrew is the top point guard and No. 2 overall prospect in the ESPN 100, while Aaron is No. 4 overall and top-rated shooting guard in the nation.

"I am very happy that Andrew and Aaron made their own decision," said their father, Aaron Harrison Sr. "They weighed all the facts and made their decision and it never changed."

---The University of Kentucky men's basketball team will be the subject for a new ESPN docuseries, All-Access Kentucky.

The series will feature the National Champion Wildcats as they seek to defend their title without any returning starters from last year's team.

"Our mission at ESPN is always to serve sports fans and with many new players on the Wildcats this year, there is enormous interest surrounding this team," Norby Williamson, ESPN's executive VP of programming and acquisitions, said in a statement. "All-Access Kentucky gives us an opportunity to deliver something entertaining and unique that helps bring fans closer to a sport they love."

The first of three 30-minute episodes is scheduled to air Oct. 17 at 7 p.m. ET.

---Chris Walker became Texas Tech's interim head basketball coach Thursday. He replaces Billy Gillispie.

Walker has a verbal agreement with athletic director Kirby Hocutt for a six-month contract.

"I'm very thankful that Texas Tech and Kirby Hocutt have given me this opportunity," Walker told reporters. "It means everything to me."

Gillispie quit Sept. 20, amid health concerns and a pending university investigation regarding his potential mistreatment of players.

The Red Raiders went 8-23 record last season.

Walker took over day-to-day operations Sept. 7. Hocutt said others were considered for the post.

"It became clear over the course of the last couple of weeks, when you see the energy, when you see the determination, when you see the attitude of this group of young men, that the best decision for this basketball program was to stay in-house and to elevate Chris Walker to this role," Hocutt told reporters.
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