TORONTO - Cody Franson is unhappy with the manner in which his 2011-12 season with the Maple Leafs unfolded.
What’s worse for the defenceman is that he has no idea when he might be able to make amends, let-alone sign a new contract with the Leafs.
A restricted free agent, Franson is in limbo during the NHL lockout after failing to agree to terms with the Leafs before the work stoppage started on Sunday.
“You hoped to have it done before, and now you hope to have it done soon after this is resolved,” Franson said on Wednesday. “For me, it’s a matter of making sure I’m in the best shape, ready to step in and play well right off the bat, put my stamp on things. “I wasn’t happy with my season last year and the way things went.”
A few hours after Franson stopped to talk to a reporter at the MasterCard Centre following an informal workout with some of his Leafs teammates and members of the Toronto Marlies, the NHL announced the cancellation of pre-season games through Sept. 30.
As for Franson, he is not as fortunate as some members of the NHLPA, who have fled for Europe and apparently have no problem letting their lesser-skilled brethren soak up the lockout atmosphere in North America.
Franson is preparing to head out of town on Friday, back to his off-season home in Kelowna, B.C., where he plans to skate with other NHLers who reside in the picturesque community until the lockout ends. No formal negotiations between the players and the league are planned.
There are approximately 10 Leafs regulars who have been skating at the MCC this week, including captain Dion Phaneuf, Phil Kessel and Mikhail Grabovski, and it’s probable the majority of them will leave Toronto on the weekend as the lockout gets further cemented.
Franson, like so many other players, is firm in his belief that the union will not be swayed by the owners.
“It’s not like we are trying to rob the bank or anything,” Franson said. “We just want a fair deal. All of us feel the same way about it. We have prepared ourselves to be in this situation and we kind of figured they would lock us out.
“We had over 300 people in New York (for NHLPA meetings last week). Everyone we talked to who was not at that meeting is very much on board with what we discussed. We have not had any people questioning anything, really. We have a very strong union right now and everybody is behind what we are doing.”
The NHL lockout of 2012-13 became a living, breathing thing late on Wednesday afternoon.
Citing in a statement the “absence of a collective bargaining agreement,” with the players’ association, the NHL announced the cancellation of all pre-season games through Sept. 30.
Gone are six Maple Leafs exhibition games:
- Sept. 24 vs. Ottawa;
- Sept. 25 at Ottawa;
- Sept. 26 vs. Philadelphia at London, Ont.;
- Sept. 28 at Buffalo;
- Sept. 29 vs. Buffalo;
- Oct. 3 vs. Columbus at Belleville, Ont.
The game in Belleville against the Blue Jackets was a Kraft Hockeyville game, and it has been re-scheduled to next year.
The Leafs have three other pre-season games slated for October — vs. Philadelphia on Oct. 2; at Detroit on Oct. 5; and vs. Detroit on Oct. 6. But it’s just a matter of time before the other exhibition games are shelved too.
Phaneuf was still holding out hope that the lockout would end swiftly. “It has not technically started yet,” Phaneuf said. “Camp does not start until Saturday (with on-ice sessions). That’s the outlook I have. Right now it is still about training and preparing to try to start camp as early as we can.”