Union reels in another loose cannon

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:04 AM ET

Pierre Dagenais won't ever experience the attention in a game that he received in his first Players Association meeting.

The little known Montreal Canadien, with 110 National Hockey League games spread over four seasons, was in the spotlight when the union gathered behind closed doors to address its dissenters.

The 26-year-old went from that intimidating experience to a massive media contingent eager to see if he's changed his mind about accepting a salary cap to save the season.

"I said what I said last week, but it was nice to come here and learn a lot about the issues," Dagenais said. "Now I know that the union is not trying to negotiate a deal for the high-end guys, but they are doing it for everyone.

TRYING HARD

"It was tough for the first part just to accept to come here. But I didn't want to hide. I said what I said, but I have a lot of respect for the guys here. They're trying hard for us.

"A guy like Jim McKenzie, who's a third and fourth-liner like me, he had his say today. And the guys really welcomed me, they appreciated that I came."

Dagenais, wearing an NHLPA baseball cap, ducked the question of a cap when pressed by English and French media, but he had already made his peace with his union brethren just by showing up, at the invitation of vice-president Vince Damphousse.

"I'm very confident that all the guys are on board," Damphousse said.

Leafs' Tie Domi was also appreciative of Dagenais' gesture.

"I respect a kid like that for showing up and learning what the whole business is all about," Domi said. "He is certainly more comfortable now."

NHLPA president Trevor Linden said the Dagenais episode underlined how difficult it is to keep 700 scattered members on side.

"I think the media was targeting guys playing in the minor leagues that saw some time in the NHL last year," Linden said. "They have feelings and we can respect them, but at the same time they do not speak for the membership."


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