CFL: CFL teams cancel the start of camps; talks break down


TROIS-RIVIÈRES – On Sunday morning, the inviting Diablos stadium would welcome fans to kick off the Montreal Alouettes’ training camp. On the contrary, closed fences awaited visitors.

The CFL is now finding itself facing a strike as the collective agreement expires, especially after being hit by a pandemic that led to the cancellation of the 2020 season and the shortening of the calendar in 2021.

Compared to most major sports leagues, it’s clear that the Canadian circuit and its players can hardly afford a business dispute. Fortunately, consensus has been reached between the leaders and the Actors Guild (AJLCF) over the past week.

Over the years, the two clans have often struggled to come to an agreement on employment contracts, but the little room for maneuver has forced them to compromise. So it was special to realize that this was the second strike in the CFL, the only other strike dating back to 1974.

For now, Danny Maciocia, general manager of Alouettes, was able to respond with a dose of humor.

“Nothing has been normal since I took the job. There was the pandemic and the canceled season. It continued with an uncertain and extraordinary 14-game season. “We find ourselves faced with this situation and look forward to how it will be resolved.”

If he had managed to laugh, he wouldn’t have been able to erase the real emotion that was in the air.

“I think everyone is a little uncomfortable with the situation. It’s not just me. Be it players, managers, fans, the media. There is a bit of justifiable disappointment, but even if it’s not in my strength, we can only stay patient. […] We didn’t expect it to be like this, but this is our reality and we hope it will be resolved soon,” Maciocia said.

The Alouettes players, who were confined to their dorms, spontaneously decided to untwist their legs on the field for about 45 minutes, and more than 40 people lent themselves to this little exercise. Kristian Matte and Eugene Lewis, two respected quarterbacks on the team, agreed to answer reporters’ questions after considering how to deal with this unusual situation.

“Of course not ideal, we were very excited to come to Trois-Rivières. It’s a pity that it’s always at the last second. I’ve been in the CFL for a long time (since 2010) and this is the first time it’s happened. I was not surprised, but disappointed that it was not possible to arrange things before the start of the camp. But at the same time, the deal should be good for everyone,” said Matte.

In turn, she acknowledged that being pushed into this context is frustrating.

“Yeah definitely! I want to play as a football player. The off-season is long and last season didn’t end well. I couldn’t wait to put on my helmet and hit some players. When it starts, training camp will go fast. We’ve already lost a day,” he said, to chat with a few fans who came to see the players. offensive player who takes the time.

“I love this job that doesn’t feel like a job to me. I feel grateful for playing every year. So it’s really unfortunate to come to this point, but I understand that there is also a commercial side to this issue. We must make sure that the deal is fair for both clans so that everyone is in a good position among the players. We’re not going to do things we shouldn’t be doing,” Lewis said.

That’s why Matte thinks players shouldn’t make too many concessions this time around.

Chris Ackie and Almondo represented the Alouettes, and the 36-year-old said: “There were things left on the table in the final negotiations of 2014, 2019 and 2021 and maybe we shouldn’t have acted like that.” Sewell in these negotiations.

“At the moment our representatives are saying that it is not advantageous for us, that we should wait and continue negotiating. We want to play, we know the fans want us to play, and we also know very well that the CFL wants us to play. We hope it’s quick, but sometimes it takes time,” he added.

Is it a good idea to allow this conflict?

There is no doubt that the repercussions of the pandemic are making the CFL more fragile. Commissioner Randy Ambrosie’s circuit should therefore avoid aggravating the situation with this conflict. Players undoubtedly deserve better conditions, but they have to balance everything.

“Due to the canceled season in 2020, many players had to find other jobs. It’s been a year without income for the CFL. Right now money is not coming from either side and we know it is money that turns the world. Players want to be able to play, we love it, we’re passionate about it. We play in the CFL, it’s not the NFL or the NBA. Yes, we get good returns for our work, but it’s not like other leagues. There has to be a balance,” Matte explained.

It takes a vote to resolve a business dispute like this, and sometimes it’s necessary to direct players to the group’s vision. This is never easy to do in football, given the size of the teams.

“Of course it’s a little different for every player. We have rookies waiting to play right away,” Matte said.

“I can definitely understand other players, especially young people and those who are here for the first time. They are ready to play and build their careers, but they can’t control what happens. At the moment, the atmosphere is still very good because the children are seeing each other again and hearing from each other about the birth of children, marriages or receiving diplomas. happy to receive it, Lewis reacted by adding a touch of subject matter.

“We can’t do exactly what we want, but we’re grateful to be here because so many players want to belong to a team right now,” the receiver concluded.

Quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. and Trevor Harris, as well as William Stanback, are among the players on the field.