Edmonton Elks will soon join the players’ strike unless a new bargain is struck

“It’s a distraction from football. We’re here to play football but it’s frustrating, it’s something we have to deal with now.

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The Edmonton Elks got off to a flying start in the last three days of training camp.

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But how much more runway lies ahead will be determined by the Canadian Football League and the Canadian Football League Players’ Association (CFLPA), who are tasked with drafting a new collective bargaining agreement to replace the last one that ran before training camp, which started on Sunday starts, off.

Meanwhile, players across the league have gone on strike, with the exception of Alberta’s teams the Edmonton Elks and Calgary Stampeders, who have continued their camps as planned because provincial labor laws prohibit them from striking for a period of 72 hours after the expiry of the CBA, which took place at midnight on Saturday.

“I pretty much do everything I always do. We were no different,” said Chris Jones, Elks’ head coach and general manager. “That’s exactly what we do, we just train. That’s what we’re worried about.”

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The question is, will he coach in the pre-season game scheduled away against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers next week?

“We’ll see,” he said. “I’m not the one to talk about it. That would be more in terms of the people involved on that side of it.

“I’m just waiting to see exactly which direction they’re telling me to go. When you’re in professional football, things always come up. It is therefore part of being involved in professional sports. You just adapt.”

Official updates didn’t exactly come for the players’ association representatives on the team on Tuesday.

“Not that I desert it. They should reach out to each other every day and exchange offers, negotiate, do their thing,” Elks defender Aaron Grymes said of the two sides come to a fair agreement.”

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And avoid further downtime for a league that hasn’t played a full season and preseason since 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which canceled the entire schedule in 2020 and resulted in a shortened 2021 season.

As for when training camp was suspended, Wednesday might not necessarily be the last day the Elks could take to the field before a strike halt.

“Not yet, as far as I know,” Elks center David Beard said. “We are awaiting further guidance but it will take some time before we finally finalize some conditions and we will find out what that looks like.” And we will just adapt spontaneously.”

All while putting it out of their minds to look their best on the field for the coaching staff at camp.

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“It’s not fun,” Beard said. “It’s a distraction from football. We’re here to play football but it’s frustrating, it’s something we have to deal with now.

“As far as I understand, the PA is waiting to come back to the table. They are ready and willing to do that, but other than that I don’t really have much to update you on.

While the Elks’ first preseason game is slated for Friday, May 27, the league is scheduled to begin its exhibition schedule on Monday, with Winnipeg set to visit the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

“It’s pretty precarious,” Beard said. “I understand that there are some deadlines.

“But yes, we are certainly in a precarious position.”

Not to mention more than a little unfair considering only two of the CFL’s nine teams were able to push full steam ahead through training camp.

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“The PA has made it very loud and clear to all teams and I think I can speak with confidence that players across the league understand the situation Alberta is in as this is a provincial regulated issue.” , Beard said. “As a players’ association, we want to stand together in solidarity. All members in the league. They know we want to be with them, we’re just trying to make it right.”

Until the time comes to join the other players on strike, the Elks plan to return to the field to continue camp.

“We’re obviously going to be out here until we can’t anymore, and then we’re going to take the right action,” Grymes said. “It gets weird, and then I think the craziest thing is going to be not knowing when you’re going to get back on the field. Of course you can sit here and say you hope it will and will not be soon, but we would also have hoped this could have happened in the off-season, could have been resolved months ago.

“And it’s not, and here we are. So, we’ll see what happens.”

Email: [email protected]

On twitter: @GerryModdejonge

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