You are currently viewing ELKS NOTES: Training camp is coming up even though the CFL players are on strike

ELKS NOTES: Training camp is coming up even though the CFL players are on strike

“That’s hanging over our heads as we try to prepare, yes it’s not ideal. It’s not fun for anyone, but I think it’s important and I think it will help our league thrive.

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It was to be the start of training camps across the Canadian Football League.

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But in the absence of a new collective bargaining agreement between the league and its Players Association, Sunday looked more like the first day of pre-season for an Alberta football league, since labor laws here in the province didn’t allow the Edmonton Elks or Calgary Stampeders to attend one participate in the league-wide strike of the players.

Aside from a voluntary walk-through exercise by members of the Montreal Alouettes, the Elks and Stamps were the only squads to take to the field and start camp on time… for as long as it takes, anyway.

“It was very strange,” said center David Beard, one of the Elks Players Association representatives, along with defense attorney Aaron Grymes. “We’re working on it and it’s kind of like the business side of football. We are football professionals, we love to play football, that’s how we take care of our families. We love it so we want to play football.

“And we brought in legal counsel to figure out the best way to do that.”

The old CBA expired at midnight on Saturday.

“It’s hanging over our heads as we try to prepare, yeah, it’s not ideal,” Beard said. “It’s not fun for anyone but I think it’s important and I think it will help our league thrive and help our fans enjoy this game for a long time.”

Health and safety issues related to increased padded practices, as well as concerns about profit-sharing, appear to be the last major sticking points, though Elks reps didn’t go into detail.

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“I know the negotiating team is going crazy right now, the league executives are going crazy right now,” Grymes said of ongoing negotiations to try and reach an agreement. “I check my email every 30 minutes to see if there is an update to see if I have a message to pass on to players. Of course there is another aspect.

“This is the third time I’ve done this, 2014 and ’19 I went through. But it’s something I signed up for and am proud to represent my locker room with David Beard. (Head Coach and General Manager Chris) Jones had us hold a players only meeting last night to answer some questions and try to put some minds at ease.

For his part, Jones has kept a low profile, preparing his players for the next practice session until he hears otherwise.

“I just know what they tell me, and they allowed us to come here and start today,” Jones said. “Whatever rules we follow, it’s what the CFL tells us and I thought the guys did a really good job coming out and putting that behind them and just doing what they had to do today. You did your job.

“There were no problems at all.”

DAY 1

How early is it for a team that finished last time to use the term ‘Grey Cup’ in training camp?

It turns out that there is no such thing.

“Well, we’ve got a long way to go before we get there. And I’m not overly intelligent so I can’t even imagine how far and months that would be, can it? said Jones, who was brought in during the offseason to replace both former GM Brock Sunderland and head coach Jaime Elizondo. “So all we have to do is put one foot in front of the other and take small steps. But of course it’s a disappointment when you don’t win the Gray Cup. Period.

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“There’s no way. I don’t care if you’re Winnipeg who just won or a situation like ours where we’re just trying to take a step and win a game. It doesn’t matter, that’s the goal. So if we don’t win it, it’s a disappointment.”

In and out: The Elks were without two of their biggest stars to open training camp as WR Kenny Lawler and RB James Wilder Jr. both ran into travel troubles en route back to Canada… Ahead of the start of main camp on Sunday, the Elks reduced their roster to 85 players (plus non-counters such as draft picks) through the layoff of 16 players, including veteran S. Jordan Hoover and QBs Khalil Tate (Arizona) and Keon Howard (Tennessee-Martin), leaving six quarterbacks under contract at camp… Also of note, the release of DE Antonio Simmons means the Elks are down for the mid-season move from QB Trevor Harris to Montreal last year… On Sunday, the team announced the signing of a pair of Americans at LB Reggie Walker (Kansas State ) known ) and DB Stefan Claiborne (West Michigan).

Email: [email protected]

On twitter: @GerryModdejonge

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