SUN Hockey Pool

Some players in shock

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:48 AM ET

Disappointment. Shock. Stunned silence.

Those were some of the reactions Darcy Tucker received last night as he conversed with his Maple Leafs teammates concerning the proposal forwarded by the players union yesterday.

Many Leafs knew a salary cut likely would be part of the offer. They were caught off-guard, however, when that figure was announced as 24%.

"I spoke to a few of the guys and their first thought was disappointment,"Tucker said last night. "Many figured they had bargained their (existing contracts) in good faith and now they get this news. It's a lot for them to digest, as it is with all of us.

"I just think that by doing this, it's an example of just how much the players want to play. Look, I have a three-year deal, and my salary is rolled back in each one of them.

"I understand a lot of guys will be disappointed. But I have faith that this is the right decision."

Under the conditions of the roll back, the Maple Leafs' 2004-05 payroll would be trimmed from $61.325 million US to $46.607 million -- a reduction of $14.718 million. In Tucker's case, his salary would drop from $2.1 million to $1.596 million -- a cut of $504,000.

"The things we have conceded go far beyond a lot of people's wildest dreams," Tucker said."But we've answered the league's every wish.

"This isn't the groundwork (for a new deal), this is the building itself. We will not negotiate a (hard) salary cap.

The union says it has nothing else to give.

"There's no time left to give a half-assed deal. This is our full proposal," union vice-president Bob Boughner of the Colorado Avalanche said. "We've sat and had a lot of battles about this in the last month internally. This is the most we're going to go.

"We're not going to bend over any more. All we've done is give and give and give. This has got to stop. This proposal has brought us to the edge. Enough is enough. If it's not accepted, then there probably won't be a season."


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