Richards says CBA 'sucks'

AL STRACHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:45 AM ET

KELOWNA, B.C. -- Those who favour the new collective bargaining agreement see it as levelling the playing field.

Those who are opposed to it say that it punishes success.

Tampa Bay Lightning forward Brad Richards is in the latter camp.

His opinion of the new CBA is unequivocal. "It sucks," he said.

"There was a reason we didn't want a salary cap that low, especially for our team," he said yesterday. "For some teams it's great. For some teams its sucks, but were going to have to live with it.

"We've already lost one of the best goalies in the world (Nikolai Khabibulin) who we could have signed without a cap and now we don't know what's going to happen with our Hart Trophy winner (Martin St. Louis)."

When Vincent LeCavalier signed a four-year, $27.5-million US deal this week, he used up so much of the Lightning's available cap room that it virtually will be impossible to sign St. Louis for more than $4 million a season.

While that's a lot of money, it's much less than what might be expected for a Hart Trophy winner. Furthermore, Richards himself is due for a new contract next year.

BERTUZZI SHARP ON ICE

Todd Bertuzzi didn't look out of place yesterday despite his long layoff. In fact, the line of Shane Doan, Bertuzzi and Richards was one of the better ones.

"I've known Bert for a couple of years and I've become friends with him," Doan said. "He's a really smart player. We had a lot of fun out there today. We were moving the puck around pretty well. I'm happy to see him on my wing."

STACKING UP ON 'D'

Among the many concerns of the Team Canada management is the breakdown of the team by position.

"It becomes difficult," executive director Wayne Gretzky said yesterday. "Are we going to take 12 forwards and eight defencemen? Thirteen forwards and seven defencemen?

"We don't have the answer right now. We don't know that. We're a little concerned because we play six games in eight days. We do know that we lost two defencemen in Game 1 of the World Cup when we had eight, and all of a sudden we were down to six.

"We thought at that point in time, maybe we should have taken nine defencemen.

"There's a lot of hockey to be played. Somebody who can play forward and play defence would be very versatile and it may be something that we have to consider because you never know with injuries on the blue line."

Probably the best candidate for that dual role would be Dan Boyle.

QUITE A LINE

The best line in yesterday's scrimmage was LeCavalier, St. Louis and Kris Draper. The line applied constant pressure and Draper twice sent in St. Louis for breakaways.

On both occasions he was stopped."

"I knew a guy like that," Gretzky said.


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