NHL takes players to court
NEW YORK, Dec. 14 (UPI) -- The National Hockey League, which has locked out players for three months, went to federal court Friday, accusing the players' union of "bad faith bargaining."
The move by the NHL came soon after it learned the NHL Players' Association intended to ask its executive board to proceed with a vote that would send it on a path toward decertification and ultimately class action and antitrust lawsuits against the league.
"Today, in response to information indicating that NHL players have or will be asked to vote to authorize the National Hockey League Players' Association's executive board to proceed to 'disclaim interest' in continuing to represent the players in collective bargaining, the National Hockey League filed a class action complaint in federal court in New York seeking a declaration confirming the ongoing legality of the lockout," the NHL said in a statement.
"Simultaneously with the filing of its complaint, the NHL also filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board alleging that by threatening to 'disclaim interest,' the NHLPA has engaged in an unlawful subversion of the collective bargaining process and conduct that constitutes bad faith bargaining under the National Labor Relations Act."
The move into the courts came the day after the two sides failed to reach a deal on a new collective bargaining agreement despite the assistance of federal mediators.
The league has canceled all games through Dec. 30, plus its Winter Classic game on New Year's Day and its All-Star Game in late January.
Lakers end losing streak
The Lakers recorded a much-needed victory against the NBA's worst team. Los Angeles ended a four-game losing streak that had put them 7 1/2 games behind the Pacific Division-leading Los Angeles Clippers.
After taking a 14-point lead into the fourth period, the Lakers saw their advantage trimmed to three with 5:30 to go in the contest.
Dwight Howard then made a hook shot and Bryant converted three free throws to boost Los Angeles back in front by eight.
Bryant went 9-of-29 from the field. Jodie Meeks played 30 minutes off the bench and scored 24 points for the Lakers.
Washington, a winner just three times this season in 20 outings, was led by 21 points from Cartier Martin.
Football bowl season opens Saturday
ALBUQUERQUE, Dec. 14 (UPI) -- The college football bowl season begins Saturday with the first two of 34 contests that will conclude with Alabama meeting Notre Dame for the national title.
Action gets underway with Arizona facing Nevada in the New Mexico Bowl at Albuquerque and Utah State will take on Toledo in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl at Boise.
In addition to putting Alabama in the national championship game, the Southeastern will be the busiest of the conferences during the 24-day bowl season.
The SEC will have 10 teams in action, although the first one will not take the field until Vanderbilt meets North Carolina State in Nashville's Music City Bowl on New Year's Eve.
That conference will also be trying to extend what is currently a six-year streak of national crowns that began when Florida defeated Ohio State at the end of the 2006 season.
Since then the national championship has been won by LSU, Florida, Alabama, Auburn and Alabama.
In the four other Bowl Championship Series games, Florida will play Louisville in the Sugar Bowl, Oregon will take on Kansas State in the Fiesta Bowl, Stanford will face Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl and surprising Northern Illinois will try for the upset against Florida State in the Orange Bowl.
Northern Illinois has won 12 games in a row and is led by quarterback Jordan Lynch, who has accounted for 4,739 yards and 43 touchdowns this season.
The most attractive of the non-BCS bowls will send Texas A&M against Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl.
A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel became the first freshman in college football history to win the Heisman Trophy. He threw for 3,419 yards and 24 touchdowns this season and ran for 1,181 yards and 19 more scores.
Manziel jumped into the Heisman Trophy picture when he led the Aggies to a shocking road win over Alabama.
The national championship game will be played Jan. 7 in Miami.
Cutler to start despite sprained MCL
Cutler, who also has a neck problem, participated fully in practice Friday after seeing limited work Thursday, the Chicago Tribune reported.
His condition was good enough for Smith to jest, "What knee?" when asked about it Friday.
"Jay is good to go," Smith said. "We are hoping he will play the best game he has ever been able to play."
The Tribune quoted an unnamed NFL source as saying Cutler was not as seriously injured as when he suffered an MCL injury during the NFC championship game loss to Green Bay two years ago and had to sit out the second half of the game.