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Lightning's B.J. Crombeen agrees sides have been spinning their wheels in latest CBA talks



There was much optimism surrounding what has become extended negotiations between the NHL and its locked-out players, but bad vibes have quickly overwhelmed the good feelings. Those became even more acute after Players' Association executive director Don Fehr's memo to players that characterized significant gaps between the sides and "a lot of work to be done" to get to a new collective bargaining agreement.

That is not good news for those who believe the league wants a shortened season (perhaps 74 games) going by Thanksgiving or the beginning of December. Some even characterized the 18 hours of negotiations over three days (Friday was the fourth day) as a spinning of wheels, something Lightning right wing B.J. Crombeen said is a "fair" assessment.

"It's obviously frustrating," Crombeen, a member of the union's negotiating committee, said Friday after a skate with teammates at the Ice Sports Forum in Brandon. "We all feel there's a deal there to be had. It's just a matter of them (the owners) realizing it and making a move. I think everyone in the world knows negotiations are give and take. You can't just take everything."

The basic stumbling blocks that have caused games through Nov. 30 and the Jan. 1 Winter Classic to be canceled still seems to be there.

The league wants a 50-50 revenue split with the players. The players, who last season received 57 percent of revenues, accepted a 50-50 split but want it phased in gradually. The players also want existing contracts honored. The league has proposed a "make whole" provision that would reimburse players for any immediate loss of income -- reports say players salaries could go down 12 percent with an immediate 50-50 split -- but the details are unclear.

There are many other issues as you can read in Fehr's memo

But players, who took a 24 percent pay cut after the 2004-05 lockout, believe they already have given up enough. Fehr's memo states the players' proposal returns $948 million to $1.25 billion in revenues over the life of a five-year collective bargaining agreement.

"Everyone can see from everything that has been made public how much we've given up and how little we've gotten," Crombeen said. "It's hopeful they realize that and realize there's a deal there to be had. It's just a matter of them giving some things."

"It kind of seems like they're waiting around, waiting for something to happen rather than make it happen, and we feel like we're trying to make it happen, so hopefully it leads to something," Crombeen added. "They're talking. Whether it's spinning their wheels or not, they're talking, and maybe something will pop into their minds or something will get done. All you can do is try to stay positive."

[Last modified: Friday, November 9, 2012 4:41pm]


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