"I think we've done our part," Lightning's Marty St. Louis says of players in CBA negotiations
When it comes right down to it, Tampa Bay Lightning star Marty St. Louis said, it is the players who have done the most giving in negotiations with the league on a new collective bargaining agreement.
"I think we've done our part, you know?" St. Louis said Wednesday at the Ice Sports Forum in Brandon. "It's frustrating."
With the lockout in its 95th day, it is difficult to argue.
Players already have agreed to reduce their share of revenue from 57 to 50 percent. They have agreed to limits on contract lengths and are on board with the idea of stopping contracts that circumvent the salary cap. They no longer argue that all existing contracts should be honored and they seem willing to agree to a long-term CBA (the league wants 10 years).
In return, the league has agreed to let the players keep the entry-level contract rules, salary arbitration rules and rules on unrestricted free agency that came after the 2004-05 lockout in which the players agreed to a salary cap and a 24 percent reduction in salaries.
"We've tried to get stuff back," St. Louis said. "It's not like we're asking for more. ... I think we've been more than reasonable. If you look back eight years ago, you want a (salary) cap? We gave them a cap. You want 50 percent of (revenue)? We give 50 percent. What are you giving me?"
St. Louis said he favors the idea floated by Jets defenseman Ron Hainsey for more face-to-face meetings between players and owners. That was tried several weeks ago in New York as six owners, including Tampa Bay's Jeff Vinik, and 18 players, including St. Louis and the Lightning's B.J. Crombeen, seemed to make progress until talks broke down at the end.
"Both [sides] were very respectful of each other," Hainsey told the Associated Press. "They were good meetings, they were productive, we did make progress. We were very appreciative of the way we were treated in the meetings by the owners. ... Maybe it's something that is worth revisiting and worthwhile and could possibly bring us closer to a deal."
"Yeah," St. Louis said, "anything, anything."
In the meantime, St. Louis and family are returning to their Greenwich, Conn., home for at least the holidays.
"I have a flight back (to Tampa), but who knows if they cancel more games," St. Louis said. "I might just stay up there. A change of scenery might be good."
"Expect the worst," he added, "and hope for the best."