Friday, March 28, 2014

Quickie Sports Chowdah Update- Bruins Shut Out Hawks After Win Streak Snapped; Bills Owner Ralph Wilson Passes Away; NLRB Rules Northwestern Football Players Can Unionize

NHL- Well, the impressive win streak came to an end on Monday night when the Montreal Canadiens won by a 2-1 final in a shootout at the TD Garden- altho' the Bruins point streak remained intact for the time being. Monday night's loss marks the first loss for the Bruins since March 1st when the Capitals doubled them up by a 4-2 final at DC's Verizon Center.

On Thursday night, Boston would host the defending Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks- the first time the Hawks had visited the Garden since their Series-clinching Game 6 at the end of the 2013 season.

Patrice Bergeron got the Bruins on the board with 8:10 to go to open up the scoring on a very crisp and free-flowing game. After a scoreless second period, the Bruins managed to score two goals less at 13 seconds apart from Carl Soderberg and Patrice Bergeron to give the Bruins a 3-0 lead early in the 3rd. That seemed to change the tempo of the game and the Bruins would go on to win by a 3-0 final. Tukka Rask turned aside all 28 shots he faced while Cory Crawford stopped 20 of 23 shots.

Part of the reason the game seemed so brisk and open was that there were only three penalties throughout Thursday night's game- the Blackhhawks went 0 for 2 while the Bruins went 0 for 1.

The Bruins hit the road once again this weekend for back to back games. On Saturday afternoon, they'll return to Washington DC's Verizon Center to take on the Capitals. Puck is scheduled to drop at 12:30 PM and the game will be televised on NESN. On Sunday, the Bruins will travel up to Philadelphia for a 12:30 game that will be nationally televised on NBC.

NFL- Ralph Wilson, the sole owner of the Buffalo Bills, has passed away at age 95 in his Grosse Pointe Shores, MI home. Wilson, who grew up in Detroit and attended the University of Michigan law school before enlisting in the US Navy in WWII. After the end of the war, Wilson took over his family's successful insurance and invested in manufacturing and mining throughout Michigan and was a minority stakeholder in the Detroit Lions.

In 1959, Wilson reportedly got wind of the oilman Lamar Hunt's plans to establish the American Football League to compete with the NFL and wanted in. The Buffalo Bills officially became an AFL team in October 1959 and have remained in Buffalo ever since. Wilson reportedly even lent money to the Patriots and Raiders in the early years of the AFL, ensuring that the none of the organizations in the AFL folded between its 1959 inception and the 1969 merger with the NFL.

Wilson was also something of a pioneer- as early as 1972, he begrudgingly allowed the naming rights to the Orchard Park, NY stadium the Bills called home to be leased to Buffalo-based Rich Foods. When the agreement lapsed in 1998, the stadium was simply referred to as Ralph Wilson Stadium

Although considered a 'small market' team, the Bills had their heyday in the 1990s when they won four straight AFC titles- only to lose four straight Super Bowls. The team's poor performance in recent years coupled with Wilson's ailing health and playing one 'home' game a season in Toronto's Rogers Centre starting in 2008 led to speculation that the team was preparing to move north of the border and become Canada's first NFL franchise. In 2009, Wilson was elected to the pro-football Hall of Fame as one of the founding members of the AFL, although he was notably absent from an October 2009 ceremony during halftime between the Bills and Browns where he was to receive his Hall of Fame ring.

However, even though Wilson left no clear heir apparent, Wilson made arrangements to extend the team's lease on Ralph Wilson stadium through at least 2019.

ELSEWHERE IN THE AFC EAST- The New York Jets and free-agent QB Michael Vick have agreed to a 1-year $5 million contract. Vick and last season's starter Geno Smith are expected to compete for the starting spot after the Jets cut former 1st round draft pick Mark Sanchez. Vick had finished the 2013 campaign for Philly on the bench with 7 TDs, 3 INTS and 1,215 yards in 7 games. Interestingly, shortly after the Jets announced the signing of Michael Vick, the Eagles announced that they had signed Mark Sanchez to a 1-year, $4 million contract.

One of the top draft picks of the NFL's 2001 draft, Vick spent the first five years of his NFL career with the Atlanta Falcons until his name came up in a narcotics and dogfighting investigation in Virginia. In 2007, Vick pleaded guilty to charges of operating an illegal dogfighting operation on his property and spent 23 months in a federal penitentiary. In 2009, the Philadelphia Eagles gambled and signed a recently-released Vick who would go on to lead the Eagles to the playoffs as well as leading the NFC in a number of offensive categories.

NCAA FOOTBALL- In a decision that will likely send shockwaves throughout NCAA Football, the Chicago office of the National Labor Relations Board ruled that football players for Northwestern University can unionize. District director Pete Sung Ohr ruled that because of the time commitment required and on-field performance being tied to some of the scholarships the university awarded.

The ruling contradicts a number of case laws in which courts have established that student-athletes are not considered employees in the eyes of the law. However, the scope of the NLRB's ruling is somewhat limited, applying to only 17 of the more than 100 universities they compete against. Not only does this week's NLRB ruling seem to establish a different set of rules for private colleges with a football program than public ones, many of the arguments made in favor of unionization directly contradict the rationale behind why scholarships aren't taxed, ESPN's Darren Rovell points out. Assuming the NLRB's decision does in fact survive an appeal, this means that the tax implications alone could make unionization unfeasible.

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