NLL season scrapped after league, players' association fail to reach deal
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The 2008 National Lacrosse League season has been cancelled after the league and Professional Lacrosse Players' Association failed to reach agreement on a new contract, a source close to the talks told The Canadian Press on Tuesday.
The source, who requested anonymity, forwarded The Canadian Press a copy of an email sent by commissioner Jim Jennings to players at 12:01 a.m. ET Tuesday, moments after the league's deadline for a new deal had passed.
"This will confirm that we have not reached accord on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement
," the e-mail read. "As such, the 2008 NLL season is cancelled."
League spokesman Doug Fritts would not comment on the report when reached on Monday.
"The league will have no further comment tonight and we expect to make a statement later on (Tuesday)," Fritts said.
The two sides met Saturday and Sunday in New York, where the 14-team league has its head office. Talks broke off Sunday night, and no further meetings were scheduled.
Deputy league commissioner George Daniel posted a statement on the league's website Monday, expressing the league's disappointment at the players' association turning down a deal he called "agreeable to the vast majority of players."
Association president Peter Schmitz countered that, deadline or no deadline, the players would be unwilling to accept a deal they consider unsatisfactory. Players remain underpaid, says Schmitz, a former player.
The previous pact, a three-year deal, expired last July 31. The NLL submitted three new proposals to the players' association since last December and the association presented a counter-proposal three weeks ago. Daniel said club owners voted months ago to cancel the season if no new deal was in place by midnight Oct. 15.
The NLL offered a minimal pay increase across the board and wanted a five-year deal. The PLPA is reported to have sought elimination of pay ceilings and a one-year agreement.
The maximum for a veteran was US$21,294 in the last agreement. Franchise players - up to two men on each team - got $25,552. The fixed rookie salary was $6,880, the second-year minimum was $9,282 and the veteran minimum was $10,221. The average worked out to about $14,500.
The majority of NLL players have full-time jobs outside their teams' 16-game schedules that run into April. Games are played mostly on weekends and many players commute to games. The season was scheduled to begin Dec. 27.
In the last two rounds of negotiations, there was a 12-day player strike in 2003 and a cancellation deadline passed in 2004 before an agreement was reached the following day.