For Tampa Bay Lightning wing B.J. Crombeen, CBA negotiations are a learning experience
With negotiations between the NHL and the Players' Association for a new collective bargaining agreement set to resume today in New York, one of the most interested parties will be Tampa Bay Lightning right wing B.J. Crombeen, who is part of the union's negotiating committee and, perhaps not coincidentally, is taking on-line business courses with the University of Phoenix. He said he is about to graduate.
Crombeen, 27, who last season was the Blues' player representative to the union, said the courses will help give him career options after he finishes playing. The negotiations, he said, are like extra-credit classes: "It's totally new to me but it's a pretty neat opportunity to be part of and sit in with some very smart people and be able to learn from them."
On the negotiations ahead of the Sept. 15 expiration of the current CBA: Going into it I didn’t know what to expect. It’s very different circumstances than the last time around. I felt that there are times where there are disagreements and we might not see some things the same way, but for the most part it’s been very cordial. I think both sides are really trying to understand where the other side is coming from. It’s something where we’re really taking our time and making sure that instead of saying 'we don’t like your proposal' or 'we don’t like your ideas and these are our ideas and we have to make it work,' we’re trying to understand where they’re coming from and put together an alternative proposal that would try to understand where they’re coming from but also understanding where we’re coming from.
On getting involved with the negotiations: First off, it obviously can play a major role in parts of your career and it’s going to be a CBA that you are going to be part of and playing under, so it’s something that’s going to be an important part of every player. But I’ve also had an interest in the business side of things and thought it would be a good opportunity to get involved with it and understand it and learn from it.
On his business classes: In about two weeks I’ll be finishing up my college degree with a business degree. So, I’ve been working away on that the past few years and, like I said, I’ve always had an interest in it and it's something I’ve always done in my spare time. So, it’s totally new to me but (the negotiations are) a pretty neat opportunity to be part of and sit in with some very smart people and be able to learn from them.
More on his business classes: It's through the University of Phoenix and the correspondence courses they’ve provided. It’s been quite a few years I’ve been working on it while I was playing. I actually started taking correspondence courses my last year in junior and I’ve kind of bounced around trying to find a program that really worked with my schedule and that worked with how varying our schedule is. You can’t always have things done on a certain day at a certain time. I finally found the University of Phoenix three years ago and have been working away with it since and it’s finally coming to an end.
On having a graduation ceremony with an on-line school: They actually do have campuses where you can go and do it. I don’t know if I’ll be making the trip to do one of those. I’m happy to get the piece of paper that says I got it, so that will be enough for me.
On what the business classes mean to him: I want to play hockey as long as I can, but it’s something I have an interest in further on down the road whether it is working in a front office or getting into the business world. I’ve tried to use some of my spare time to make it a little bit of an easier transition when it is done.
On his role with the union: Being part of the negotiating committee you’re just expected to be there and be a bit more involved than every once in a while. I’m sure as it gets closer to the dates and the meetings get a little longer and more intense you’ll be a little more involved in it. But there’s no cut and dried responsibilities. We want all the guys we can to be involved and have a say and understand what’s happening. It's trying to be involved with it and pass the word along to the other players.