NLL cancels 2008 season after failing to reach labor agreement

The league rejected a players’ union proposal to lift the maximum salary cap.

>NEW YORK (AP) – The National Lacrosse League canceled its 2008 season after failing to reach a labor agreement with the union.

The executive committee of the Professional Lacrosse Players’ Association rejected the last collective bargaining agreement proposal, the NLL said Tuesday.

“The plan is to take the season off and try to get with the union and negotiate a deal that works for both parties and get back playing in ’09,” NLL commissioner Jim Jennings said.

The 14-team league was scheduled to open the season Dec. 27.

“It’s devastating,” Jennings said. “We’re in a position right now where we’re just starting to build momentum with our fan base, our teams, with television and sponsors over the last four, five years. We’re not the NHL, not the NBA. … This is going to cause a lot of pain to a lot of people.”

The union proposed to lift the cap on maximum salaries during a weekend meeting in New York, NLL deputy commissioner George Daniel, the league’s lead negotiator, said during a conference call.

The owners unanimously agreed to stop negotiations after the Monday deadline passed, he said. Teams in Phoenix, Portland, Ore., and San Jose, Calif., were experiencing financial losses, Daniel said.

The league, which runs December to April, also has franchises in Boston; Buffalo, N.Y.; Calgary, Alberta; Chicago; Denver; Edmonton, Alberta; New York; Philadelphia; Rochester, N.Y.; St. Paul, Minn.; and Toronto.

Teams play 16 regular-season games, mostly on the weekends because players often hold full-time jobs.

Last April, the Rochester Knighthawks defeated the Arizona Sting 13-11 in the championship game, which was televised on Versus. The league’s TV contracts expired after last season.