Negotiations lost over fund

IAN BUSBY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:37 AM ET

National Lacrosse League players are fighting for a Players Benefit Fund in contract negotiations, a sticking point that wasn't revealed until yesterday.

The Professional Lacrosse Players' Association is looking for $800,000 from the NLL for the 2006 season, which came from a clause in the previous CBA.

The league disputed the numbers, and the case is set to go to arbitration.

But the elimination of the fund caused contract talks to break down, according to Calgary Roughnecks union rep Kaleb Toth, which led to the upcoming season being cancelled by the league Tuesday.

The clause states players are to be paid a set percentage of league revenues, and anything over that number goes into a pension fund.

"A lot of the players are getting upset because the facts of the case haven't been out there," said Toth.

"We submitted numerous proposals with the clause in there, but they wanted to take it out. So we took it out and asked for no salary cap. That was the only time we asked for no salary cap. We gave them three options with this provision in it. They still refused."

Roughnecks general manager Kurt Silcott, who was on the NLL's negotiating committee, said the players didn't emphasize the importance of the fund.

"They took it out at one point and then put it back in," Silcott said. "It wasn't clear what their primary issues were and what they wanted to talk about. It was hard to negotiate with them. We made our points clear. We wanted to maintain the system we had in place, have a long-term deal and cap the salaries."

Roughnecks players are upset with how reports are making them out to appear greedy, when the average salary is only $14,500 per year.

Until yesterday, only player reps had spoken to the media, with a few exceptions, under a gag order from the union.

However, some players broke their silence yesterday wanting to get their point out.

"I'm frustrated that people say we're after no salary cap," said Roughnecks defender Andrew McBride. "People must think we're making $100,000, and that isn't the case."

Rigger Devan Wray said the argument players were just looking for more money was ridiculous. Wray, like most of his teammates, just wants to make sure as the league grows, so too does the compensation to the pension fund.

"The league is really counting on the fact the players love to play," Wray said. "We don't play for the money. Sure it's fun going out in front of 12,000 to 15,000 fans and I appreciate the opportunity, but the owners are really trying to take advantage of the fact we do this for the love of the game."

The league said its decision to cancel the season was based largely on inactivity by the union. The old CBA expired July 31 and the league had been asking to sit down with the union since December.

The PLPA tabled its first proposal two weeks ago, and given how far apart the sides were on key issues, the league's board of governors opted to pull the plug.


Videos

Photos