TORONTO -- They've done their part to help the NHL and the pressure should not be on them to do so much again, Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said Thursday after a day of no progress in efforts to end the month-old lockout.
Winnipegger Toews and 17 other NHLPA members including the likes of Sidney Crosby, Eric Staal and Jarome Iginla backed union leader Don Fehr during and after a short and unproductive session with the NHL.
Again Thursday, much was still said by players about what the entire lost season of 2004-05 has cost them, a resolution that brought a hard salary cap to the NHL.
"Don has said it many times before, that the sacrifices those players made in '04-05, and you look at how the game has grown and the league has grown over those eight years or so, and they're still claiming financial trouble," Toews said. "It's the understanding from our standpoint that there's no reason to budge off where we are because those players lost a full season and the money we lost since then isn't nothing. It's substantial.
"Here we are, we've come full circle and they're making the same demands. All the issues, all the demands that basically (went) their way last time, it still isn't good enough.
"That's a little frustrating from the players' standpoint and here we are again making these sacrifices. All we're asking is that they honour the current contracts we're under and they're still trying to find ways not to do that.
"We've discussed this to find a fair way to get to a 50-50 split eventually but depending (what) they want, it's probably not going to happen right away."
Toews and the other players provided the appropriate grim-faced backdrop to Fehr's protestations about Thursday's proposals rejected by the NHL.
And the players had a few objections of their own.
"I think we've done more than enough so far to show we're willing to negotiate and sacrifice," Toews said. "It's come to the point where it's just disappointing that the league has waited this long to throw this so-called last-ditch effort to salvage an 82-game season.
"We just want them to honour the current contracts that we're under right now. That's all we're asking."
Toews said what's been proposed by the NHL so far does not fulfill that need to honour present deals.
"To pay us back with our own money, to us that's not honouring current contracts," he said.
And while he was as engaged and passionate about the cause as he is on the ice -- Captain Serious is his nickname -- Toews also offered a hint of some of his well-known leadership skills as well, in case fans and observers were getting too discouraged about the state of negotiations.
"At this point, we're not going to overreact to anything the NHL tries to do or throw in our face," he said. "We're going to stay together and calm as a group."