Basically, like all of the players interviewed by various media outlets regarding the attempted formation of the Canadian Hockey League Players Association, Red Deer Rebels captain Adam Kambeitz hasn’t been contacted by any of the organizers.
“The only thing I’ve heard is just what I’ve seen floating around on Twitter,” Kambeitz said Wednesday. “I also read one article on it.”
The proposed CHL players union, which is primarily seeking increased and extended education benefits for the players in the Western, Ontario and Quebec major junior leagues, has supposedly been 14 months in the making, said spokesman Derek Clarke, who went public just this week.
“Players and agents feel this is long overdue,” Clarke told the Windsor Star. “The CHL has done a great job producing players and offering some education packages. The fact is more can be done. We’re hoping to get a positive reception from the CHL because this benefits kids and because it’s a positive step for education.”
While Kambeitz had no prior knowledge of the union being formed, he admitted he heard from several former Western Hockey League players that it was a process that had some legs.
“I mentioned it to some of the guys at the gym this summer who played in the league before and they just said they heard it was supposed to be happening for years now and it hasn’t happened,” said the Coaldale native.
“Really, to the extent that I’ve heard about it, and that’s just seeing on Twitter . . . it just seems like it’s not a legit thing. To me it seems like it’s rumours right now.”
Not that Kambeitz would argue with a union stand that would allow WHL players to tap into the league’s education fund after the currently allotted time of 18 months following the completion of a player’s final season of major junior hockey.
Players have within that time span to either turn to pro hockey or pursue an education, and if they sign an NHL contract the funds are no longer available.
The proposed union stand would keep the education money available indefinitely, a stance Kambeitz would welcome.
“I don’t think I have a problem with that. I do think the CHL does a really good job, the education fund they provide us with is phenomenal,” he said.
“But I think that would be a pretty cool thing. (Extending the education money availability) would be a neat thing.”
Clarke said a players union would also focus on Hockey Canada.
“The CHL is profitable and has a great program of education and promoting players to the next level,” he told the Windsor Star. “Hockey Canada uses CHL players for the World Junior, Canada-Russia Challenge and some of that money should come back to the players.”
Canadian Hockey League president David Branch released a series of statements Wednesday regarding the attempted organization of the 1,300 CHL players.
“To date, the league has not received any formal notification on the formation of this association or any intent to organize our players,” said Branch.
“We are of the opinion that no junior hockey league in the world has made more changes to support the best interest of its players both on and off the ice as the CHL. This is evidenced by our drug education and anti-doping program, our concussion management program, numerous charitable programs and our Respect in Sport Program as developed by Sheldon Kennedy in the area of player abuse,” added Branch.
“In addition, the CHL provides North America’s best player scholarship program, funded through the league’s ownership.”
Rebels owner Brent Sutter agreed with Branch’s take.
“I don’t know any more than what’s been released. Let’s just see how it unfolds,” said Sutter.
“I do know what we do for the players as far as organizations, as far as each member club,” he continued, adding that the Rebels’ cost of billeting, providing equipment and other overall expenses for each player is between $30,000 and $35,000 per year.
“And that never decreases, it increases, so your expenses are certainly right up there. I know that in the Western League all the players are treated with such high standards and we have a great education package in place. We do a lot for the players. They are treated first class in Red Deer and we don’t cut corners on anything.
“I don’t know any more than what anyone else is reading. This is something that’s just come out and let’s just see where it all unfolds and where it’s at.”