Rush realize worst nightmare

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:44 AM ET

You could tell from the look on Duane Vienneau's face, it's not what he wanted.

Not with the Edmonton Rush heading into their third season.

Not with the team hosting the National Lacrosse League all-star game.

Not with a legitimate chance to make the playoffs for the first time in franchise history.

"We were very excited going into this season coming up," the Rush president said.

"We felt that this was our year to make the playoffs and we're very disappointed in all of this especially for the fans.

"And something that I was very disappointed about, is that we've had huge success the past two seasons with Saturday night games and this upcoming season our schedule was the best ever. Seven of our eight games would have been on Saturday night."

Yesterday the National Lacrosse League announced they were cancelling the season after failing to reach an agreement with its players association.

The league had set a deadline of midnight Monday to sign a collective bargaining agreement with the players.

However talks between the two sides broke off Sunday without an agreement.

There is some faint hope the two sides will come together in the next couple of days to sign a deal and reverse the league's decision. The 2008 season does not get underway until late December.

However with building dates being released, the longer the two sides don't come together, the tougher it is to set up a new schedule.

Last night Rush players contacted by Sun Media declined comment.

The team's union representative, goaltender Curtis Palidwor, did not return calls.

However, Calgary Roughnecks union rep Kaleb Toth was talking yesterday.

"I'm heartbroken to be honest with you," he told the Calgary Sun. "This is the worst decision the National Lacrosse League has ever made."

As for the Rush, Vienneau said they're not going anywhere.

"I don't know (how) it's going to shake down, but I will tell you with confidence, no matter how this league looks after this, the Edmonton Rush are going to be a part of it."

During the work stoppage the Rush plan on maintaining a presence in the community. Vienneau said decisions on staffing issues have yet to be made. The team is also asking season-ticket holders to be patient in the next few days while the dust settles. All season-ticket holders will get a full refund if indeed there is no season.

"I didn't in a million years think we would get to this point," Vienneau said. "But here we are today, this is the reality and I just don't know where we're at today. It's too early to tell. It's done, the season is called and I'm just praying for a miracle now."

Barring one, the Rush are going to have to close the book on a season expected to be their most competitive yet.

A number of off-season moves strengthened team personnel giving the club a good shot at the playoffs.

"I don't think anybody gains by this, either the players or the teams themselves," said Rush assistant coach A.J. Johma. "It's going to hurt the sport of lacrosse, in my opinion. However, when you get two sides that feel strongly about their positions then they're going to start making decisions that is in their best interest."


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