The odds of the National Lacrosse League having a 2008 season appear to have gone from slim to none and the vitriol was dripping on both sides yesterday after commissioner Jim Jennings announced the cancellation of the 2008 season.
Calling it "a very dark day," Jennings blamed the Professional Lacrosse Players' Association for failing to agree to a long-term collective bargaining agreement after four labour disputes in seven years.
"We're deeply disappointed that the (PLPA's) executives rejected our proposal (Monday night) without allowing each player to vote," Jennings said.
Toronto Rock president and co-owner Brad Watters suggested the PLPA didn't carry out the wishes of the players.
"I'd say if you asked the players, 85% would have accepted the raises we put on the table," Watters said bluntly.
"I think their leadership advised them it was a big bluff, and the big bluff has come back on them. Have a fun winter."
Both PLPA executive director Dave Succamore and Rock captain Jim Veltman took umbrage with the comments.
"(Watters) hasn't phoned me, maybe he's contacted more players," Veltman said.
"Their proposal was (crap)," Succamore added. "We wouldn't be doing our jobs if we recommended that to the players."
Watters recognized that the loss of what would have been the club's tenth season in Toronto would be devastating.
"The league will survive, but it will definitely be a new landscape 15 months from now," he said. "It's a very competitive market. We'll need to work very hard to rebuild our fan base. We'll have to re-establish ourselves."
Even though games weren't scheduled to begin until early in the new year, Jennings said he has instructed teams to release all of the dates they were holding with arenas.
Watters said the Rock will do that this weekend and added, "once we release the dates, it's over."
The league claims that only three or four teams make money on an annual basis, but the PLPA and many players believe the numbers presented are inaccurate.