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CFL Players’ Association ratifies new contract with CFL

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8 minute read

By Dan Ralph

The CFL Players’ Association ratified its new collective bargaining agreement with the CFL on Thursday night.

The CFLPA made the announcement via email. The players’ vote came hours after the two sides hammered out a seven-year tentative agreement.

The ratification came two days after CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie unveiled the league’s final offer to its players.

The deal must also be ratified by the CFL board of governors, but that’s not expected to be an issue. With the players accepting the agreement, the league’s exhibition season will open on time Friday night.

“We are pleased that players have now ratified a new collective bargaining agreement between the CFL and CFLPA,” Ambrosie said in a statement. “The CFL’s board of governors will conduct its ratification vote shortly.

“We look forward to a successful season — including pre-season games this weekend — and a long and productive partnership with our players.”

The CFLPA didn’t provide overall voting results. Players on six of the nine CFL teams had to accept the deal for it be ratified, with the required margin being at least 50 per cent plus one of ballots in favour.

On Monday, the players voted against a tentative deal that the union had recommended they accept. The CFLPA also recommended the ratification of Thursday’s tentative agreement.

According to sources, CFL teams will have seven Canadian starters and 21 in total on rosters this year. In 2023, that number increases to eight with one being a nationalized Canadian — an American who has spent either five years in the CFL or at least three with the same team.

Clubs will also be able to rotate two nationalized Canadians for up to 49 per cent of snaps. Teams can move to three nationalized Canadians in 2024 but the two franchises that play the most Canadians at the end of the season will receive additional second-round draft picks.

And the seven pure Canadian starters per game will remain intact throughout the term of deal, which can be reopened after five years when the CFL’s broadcast agreement with TSN expires.

The sources spoke on the condition of anonymity as neither the league nor union have provided specific details of the new agreement.

The sources also said the CFL will provide $1.225 million in a ratification pool for players. The salary cap this year will remain at $5.35 million and increase to $5.51 million in 2023. It will be $5.99 million in 2028.

Minimum salaries for global, national (Canadian) and American players will be consistent. The figure will increase from $65,000 to $70,000 next year and $75,000 in 2027.

The maximum housing allowance this year will be $2,300 monthly for six months. The CFL and CFLPA agree to an annual review to determine the maximum housing allowance number for the next season.

In return, the CFL receives extended labour peace and the opportunity of time to really rebuild its business. The league didn’t play in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic — reportedly losing between $60 and $80 million — and held a shortened 14-game campaign last year.

Last December, the league announced a partnership with Genius Sports, a data, technology and commercial company that connects sports, betting and media. In August 2021, the CFL signed a multi-year partnership with BetRegal to become its official online sports-gaming partner.

Last month, the single-game sports betting industry opened fully in Ontario.

But Canadian Justin Palardy, a former kicker who spent time with five CFL teams from 2010-15, took to social media to voice his displeasure with the deal.

“Like I said on another tweet, what’s the point of drafting more (Canadians) if we’re getting rid of Canadian starters?” he tweeted. “You may think it’s a terrific idea, doesn’t mean it makes sense.”

Defensive lineman/linebacker Shomari Williams, who went first overall in the 2010 CFL draft to Saskatchewan and played with four teams over six pro seasons (2010-15) also wasn’t impressed.

“I feel the CFLPA main objective for (Canadian) members is to NOT diminish the roles of (Canadian) players in the CFL,” he tweeted. “How do you bring this to your (Canadian) members after they voted no and have the confidence you will be re-elected?”

The two sides had been at odds regarding the Canadian ratio.

Last Wednesday, the CFL and CFLPA reached a tentative seven-year agreement, ending a four-day strike by seven of the league’s nine teams. At first glance, there seemed to be many positives for the players, including a revenue-sharing model, the ability to reopen the pact in five years once the CFL signed a new broadcast deal, and veteran players having the ability to negotiate partially guaranteed contracts.

But the agreement also called for CFL teams to increase the number of Canadian starters from seven to eight. The extra would’ve also been a nationalized Canadian.

In addition, three other nationalized Canadians could play up to 49 per cent of snaps. And the deal didn’t include a ratification bonus.

On Tuesday, Ambrosie unveiled an amended proposal that included a $1-million ratification pool and the abolition of the three nationalized Canadians playing 49 per cent of snaps. However, it also reduced the number of Canadian starters to seven, including one nationalized Canadian.

Not only did Ambrosie say it was the CFL’s final offer, but it was good until midnight ET on Thursday, given the league’s exhibition schedule was slated to begin Friday night with two games. Ambrosie added if the players rejected the offer and opted to go back on strike, they’d be served notice to vacate their respective training-camp facilities.

It marked the second time Ambrosie had gone public with a final contract offer to the CFLPA. On May 14, he posted a letter to fans on the league’s website detailing the league’s proposal to players hours before the former CBA was set to expire.

The next day, players on seven CFL teams opted against reporting to training camp and went on strike. The Edmonton Elks and Calgary Stampeders both opened camp as schedule because they weren’t in a legal strike position, as per provincial labour laws, at the time.

It marked just the second work stoppage in league history and first since 1974.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 26, 2022.

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Alberta

Kadri’s winner halts Coyotes’ comeback effort as Flames earn 3-2 victory

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By Darren Haynes in Calgary

Nazem Kadri scored the game-winning goal at 15:42 of the third period and added two assists to lead the Calgary Flames to a 3-2 victory over the Arizona Coyotes on Monday.

Dillon Dube and Elias Lindholm also scored for Calgary (12-10-3), which has won five of its last six games at the Saddledome. Jonathan Huberdeau chipped in a pair of assists.

Shayne Gostisbehere and Jeff Chychrun each had a goal and an assist for Arizona (7-12-4), which has won just one of its last 10 (1-6-3).

Dan Vladar, starting for the fifth time in the last seven games, made 18 stops to even his record at 4-4-1.

Karel Vejmelka had 24 stops for the Coyotes in falling to 6-7-3.

Down 2-1 to start the third period, Arizona tied it at 5:50 when Chychrun snapped a shot over Vladar’s shoulder. It was Chychrun’s third goal in seven games since the defenceman returned from a wrist injury that sidelined him the first six weeks of the season.

But nine minutes later, Chychrun took a tripping penalty that proved to be costly.

Calgary regained the lead as Tyler Toffoli neatly set up Kadri, who notched his team-leading ninth goal of the season.

The Flames finished the night a perfect 2-for-3 on the power play, after having been in a slump, going 2-for-21 over the previous seven games.

Arizona went 0-for-2 on the man advantage.

Fuelled by back-to-back power plays early in the first period, Arizona held a 7-1 edge in shots at the 13-minute mark of the first period before Calgary started to tilt the ice in its favour.

After an extended stretch of pressure in the Coyotes’ end, Dube opened the scoring deflecting a Chris Tanev point shot at 14:13 of the frame for his fifth goal of the season and fourth goal in his last eight games.

Just under three minutes later, Lindholm netted a power-play marker for his ninth of the campaign.

The Flames piled up 15 shots in a row before the Coyotes, having gone over 15 minutes without testing Vladar, finally directed a puck on the Calgary net seven minutes into the second.

With Vejmelka keeping the visitors within two, Arizona cut its deficit in half at 13:53 of the second. Rookie right-winger Matias Maccelli sent a drop pass to Gostisbehere whose shot found its way through a couple of screens and in off Vladar’s arm.

HOMECOMING WEEK

Coyotes defenceman Juuso Valimaki, selected 16th overall in the 2017 draft, is the fourth Flames first-round pick to play against Calgary during its homestand. He follows Matthew Tkachuk (2016) and Sam Bennett (2014) with Florida on Tuesday and Sean Monahan (2013) with the Canadiens on Thursday.

ROOKIE RISING

Maccelli’s assist extends the 22-year-old’s point streak to four games (one goal, five assists). It’s also his 15th helper on the season, which leads all rookies. Maccelli is second in rookie scoring behind Seattle’s Matty Beniers.

UP NEXT

Coyotes: Having not played at home since Nov. 3, Arizona’s stretch of 14 straight games on the road concludes on Wednesday in Edmonton.

Flames: Wrap up their five-game homestand on Wednesday against Minnesota.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 5, 2022.

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Alberta

Dowd’s winner lifts Capitals past Oilers 3-2

Published on

By Shane Jones in Edmonton

Throwing 50 shots on net proved to be a successful recipe for the Washington Capitals on Monday.

Nic Dowd scored the game winner as the Capitals snapped a two-game losing skid with a 3-2 victory over the Edmonton Oilers. Washington outshot Edmonton by 20 in the win.

“It was one of our best wins of the season,” Capitals coach Peter Laviolette said. “I thought it was every guy in there that played really hard and came out the right way in the first period and were doing the right things.

“We had gotten away from that for a couple of games. I thought we did a good job tonight of trying to push it and control the game.”

Lars Eller and T.J. Oshie also scored for the Capitals (11-12-4), who have gone 2-5-3 in their last 10 road games. Charlie Lindgren made 28 saves.

“It was good, especially considering we have so many guys out,” Eller said of his team’s high-octane performance. “We haven’t had that many wins in this building, It is a tough place to come in to and we gave it everything we had and it was enough today.

“We were playing to our identity with good forechecking and forcing some turnovers and having some long times in the zone cycling and long attacks. That is the stuff we are doing when we are playing our best and we saw some of that today. There were a lot of positives.”

Brett Kulak and Connor McDavid replied for the Oilers (14-12-0), who have lost two of their last three. Stuart Skinner stopped 47 shots.

With yet another bad start, Edmonton was fortunate to emerge from the first period without surrendering a goal, despite being blitzed by Washington, getting outshot 22-12.

“We come in here and we talk about it every day,” Oilers defenceman Darnell Nurse said of his team’s rough starts. “We sit here after the game, talk about it over and over and over. … We want to have good starts each and every night but, you know, we’re sitting here and it’s a part of our game. We’re almost a quarter of the way through the season.

“The more we just talk away and pester at it, we need to just show up and play. Relax, pin our ears back and come out on the on the attack.”

Skinner was rock solid in the opening frame, particularly during a Washington power play where he made seven saves in one sequence, including a pair of one-timers from Alex Ovechkin and an opportunity in tight for Oshie.

Despite the slow start, the Oilers opened the scoring 1:44 into the second period as Kulak unleashed a blast from the point with traffic in front for his first of the season.

Washington levelled the score just under six minutes later. Leon Draisaitl coughed the puck up in his own zone, giving Eller a clear path to the net and he beat Skinner following a deke for his fourth of the campaign.

Edmonton regained the advantage with 4:35 to play in the middle frame when McDavid picked off a John Carlson pass and blazed up ice on a breakaway before beating Lindgren through his legs for a short-handed marker.

McDavid’s 22nd of the year pushed his goal streak to five games. It is the best start through 26 games of his career, with his previous best being 16 goals in that span.

The Capitals answered back on the same power play, however, on a perfect three-way passing effort that was finished off when Oshie blasted a feed from Dylan Strome into the net. The shot totals were 41-19 for the visitors after 40 minutes.

Washington grabbed its first lead 7:13 into the third period as a buzzing Aliaksei Protas came in on a partial break, but instead dropped it back to Dowd, who wired home his fourth to give his team the eventual win.

NOTES:

Both teams have been badly hit with injuries. Missing from the Washington lineup were Nicklas Backstrom (hip surgery), Connor Brown (torn ACL), Carl Hagelin (hip surgery), Tom Wilson (torn ACL), Beck Malenstyn (upper body), Dmitry Orlov (lower body), Darcy Kuemper (upper body) and Martin Fehervary (upper body). … Hunter Shepard was called up from the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League to serve as the backup goalie with Kuemper getting injured in their last game against Calgary. … The Oilers were missing Evander Kane (wrist surgery), Warren Foegele (undisclosed), Ryan McLeod (undisclosed) and Zach Hyman, who took a stick to the head in Saturday’s contest against Montreal. The Oilers did get some good news, with Kailer Yamamoto able to return after missing 11 games with an undisclosed injury.

UP NEXT:

Both teams return to action on Wednesday. The Capitals close out a six-game road trip in Philadelphia against the Flyers. The Oilers play the third of a four-game homestand when they host the Arizona Coyotes.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 5, 2022.

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