Each week Jon Marthaler bakes up a delicious batch of links for you. Other times, you can find him here. Jon?

Last night, the NHL Players Association announced that it was blocking the league's realignment plan for next season. This is the plan that would have introduced a whole bunch of great things, including renewed Minnesota rivalries with Detroit, Chicago, St. Louis, and Winnipeg. Unfortunately, the NHLPA viewed it as a shot across the bow in the upcoming CBA negotations, and decided to move to block the plan.

I guess, for us hockey fans, it's nice to see that nothing changes. The loss of an entire season was a slap in the face and a reminder that those that run the NHL, the game's pinnacle, didn't particularly care about the league's fans. We all came flooding back after that labor stoppage, almost as though nothing had ever happened. It's good to have a reminder that, no matter how well things are going, those involved in the labor negotiations care more about posturing than they do about something good for the league's fans.

On with the links:

*With the news that Francisco Liriano is going to throw a few innings in Dominican winter ball this year, Parker Hageman tells us what to watch for. Basically, Liriano is the worst pitcher in the league at getting ahead in the count, and needs to work on that. (Alas, in his first outing in winter ball, he fell behind in the count to six of the eight hitters.)

*Brandon Warne at Twinkie Town has a Q&A with Twins hitting coach Joe Vavra, which illuminates Vavra's coaching strategy in a number of ways.

*Sean Conboy at The Classical writes about concussions, which again came to the forefront when Browns quarterback Colt McCoy, who was allowed to return to the game by the Browns medical staff after getting his clock cleaned against the Steelers, couldn't afterwards remember playing in the second half of the game.

*And finally: Learn to be a quarterback, with the help of Chris Brown at the Smart Football blog, plus his helpers Bill Walsh and Joe Montana.

That'll do it for me. We will not be discussing the weather today, in the hopes that it continues like this until March.

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