IT'S a day-by-day, hour-by-hour watch. And while the Canadian Football League's ongoing labour battle in unfolding, Winnipeg Blue Bomber veterans will still report for work on the weekend hoping a new collective-bargaining agreement can be hammered out ASAP.
The latest CBA expired Thursday night at 10:59 p.m.
"We're informing the players to show up, as normal, on the weekend and hopefully that's seen as a sign of good faith to the league and aids us in advancing the negotiating process," Glenn January, the Bombers CFL Players' Association rep, said Thursday.
"Obviously we're disappointed that negotiations broke off today, just because so much time and effort was put in by both parties -- but especially on our part -- to try and find a middle ground. I'm telling my teammates to go out there and prepare to have a normal training camp, to do whatever you do in the lead-up to Saturday's physicals and Sunday's first day on the field.
"Keep this in your mind, but at the end of the day we're going to have this resolved one way or another and we have to be ready to be prepared to shift our focus to getting to the 2014 Grey Cup."
Several Bomber veterans do have report bonuses in their contracts that would be due when they arrive for physicals Saturday, but the labour laws from province to province are different, meaning training camp could open and play out for a few days before the players decide to strike.
Asked about whether the CFL's latest proposal could be put to the players for a vote -- as commissioner Mark Cohon suggested -- January said:
"I'm not sure about the process on that, but the players I've spoken with are not satisfied with the offer that's been levied from the CFL. The feedback I'm getting is the players are willing to fight and do whatever it takes to see this through."
Like a lot of CFL fans, January said he was hopeful that Wednesday's day-long meetings might push the two sides closer to an agreement. Instead, Thursday's development seems to have done the opposite.
"The feedback I'm getting from a lot of guys is they're disappointed in the pace things are proceeding and not in the way you would think necessarily," January said. "Guys are excited to stand up to some of the things that have been said about them, whether it's in the media or from the commissioner's quotes... there's certain things that just ignite the competitive fires that burn inside all professional athletes."
Meanwhile, those participating in rookie camp -- players and coaches alike -- have had their head down focussing on what is directly in front of them, not the CBA discussions.
"We're trying not to worry about that," said Bomber running back Nic Grigsby. "We all came here for the opportunity to play football. We want the opportunity to play. We know the CFL wants to get everybody in and playing and we know the players want to get going.
"We have a playbook to worry about. That's for somebody else to worry about and we can only control what we can control."
"I've been out on the field," added Bomber head coach Mike O'Shea. "I wouldn't be able to tell you what's been going on. And even if I could tell you, I wouldn't."
Ed.firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @WFPEdTait