The sheet of ice at the Brandon Ice Sports Forum is where the Lightning organization pays for their players to practice during the season. But since the NHL labor lockout, it's the players who have to dig into their pockets to pay for ice time.
"We chip in and pay for the ice time, just like one hundred percent of the other guys in the league," said Lightning Right Wing Martin St. Louis. "We find a way to stay in shape and get ready, weather it is here or overseas."
Lightning players have to be ready to take their game to Europe, now that the full eighty-two game NHL season is in jeopardy. The league gave the NHLPA a deadline of tomorrow to agree on a new labor deal.
"We got their last proposal saying they were going to be serious about negotiating, and it's pretty obvious that they are not," said Lightning Players Representative BJ Crombeen. "For them to say that they are willing to talk to us only if we agree to 98% of they've proposed which is taking away every right we have."
The NHL proposed a 50/50 revenue sharing deal but, the league wants players to take another pay cut to fit the structure of the 50/50 proposal.
"We tried to meet with them and they don't want to take our deal, so there is not much negotiation there," said St. Louis.
"We really want to be out there playing, and we are very optimistic group and it's pretty frustrating when we see them acting the way they are," said Crombeen.
So for now it's Vinny Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis coaching and instructing the players on the ice, that the players before despite having no source of income. But they feel ready and are waiting for this lockout to end.