Leafs talk tough about CBA

Updated: January 31, 2004, 4:34 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Toronto players may feel unanimity about how the collective bargaining agreement should be decided, but they're less uniform in their statements about the process.

Players' union representative Bryan McCabe, a defenseman for the Maple Leafs, told the Toronto Star for Friday's editions that an extended layoff is possible.

"The bottom line is, if they want a hard (salary) cap, we'll sit out for the rest of our lives," McCabe said. "If they're not going to budge off of that, there's really nowhere to go."

To goalie Trevor Kidd, such public statements aren't doing much good.

"Mute everything," he told the Toronto Sun for Friday's editions. "It's laughable. It's pretty tough to be optimistic when you look at the comments they are throwing at each other. Arguing through the media, whether one person said this or one person said that, it will go nowhere fast."

The agreement expires Sept. 15. Commissioner Gary Bettman and union head Bob Goodenow met in New York last week and attended a game together at Madison Square Garden. That broke a stalemate that existed since an Oct. 1 bargaining session in Toronto.

The league contends revenues have increased 163 percent while players salaries have jumped 252 percent since the current CBA took effect nearly 10 years ago.

The league also contends total losses amounted to nearly $300 million last season, just one of the figures the NHLPA doesn't believe. Plus, the players are concerned that owners want a hard salary cap.

"It's all in the semantics," McCabe told the Star. "They want to impose a system where we can't direct our marketplace. What's the point of having free agency if you can't go anywhere? Whatever way they put it, it's not a good deal for us."

And although Kidd said he prefers behind-the-scenes negotiations, he publicly agreed with his teammate.

"All you have to do is read the arguments in the paper to know there's going to be no hockey," Kidd told the Star. "We talk about the trust factor and it's a little bit frustrating when the NHL guy (league vice president Bill Daly) says that if we accept their offer, then they'll (show us the revenues). It's like, 'Trust us and sign the agreement first.' "

The players also point to their responsibility to the next generation.

"I think the players are more unified this time than the last time we went through this," Alexander Mogilny told the Star. "Nobody likes to miss time and lose money, but we have to remember that there were older players who did this for us and we've got to be grateful for that.

"We have to do whatever it takes to pass that on to the other guys who are coming up," Mogilny added.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.