Labour impasse torpedoes opening of training camp for Argos

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Camp Argos has officially been put on hold on what should have been the unveiling of the new-look team featuring many high-profile CFL veterans.

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Labour disputes have a way of interfering with the actual games, and the latest impasse between the league and its players’ association scuttled Sunday’s Day 1 for the Scullers.

When players will be given the clearance to work out at the University of Guelph will hinge on a new CBA.

For now, no practices have been scheduled, and every team function suspended.

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Talks broke down Saturday following day-long marathon conversations Friday.

Players were expected to huddle with their union Sunday, ostensibly to get updates on the latest status of talks and what options remain viable moving forward.

While training camps were scheduled to begin, the union urged players to participate in a work stoppage starting at 12:01 a.m. Sunday.

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The Argos said in a brief statement Sunday morning that there would be no practice and no media availability, which was to be expected given there’s nothing to be said amid the ongoing labour impasse.

It’s not clear how long players will be off the field, nor is it known when the CFL and its players’ association will next meet, at least formally.

The bottom line is that the Argos are in a holding pattern.

Players have made their way to Guelph and all physicals have been performed and cleared.

Toronto’s first of two pre-season games is tentatively scheduled next Friday night in Ottawa.

The team’s exhibition finale is set to be played in Guelph against Hamilton on June 3.

The regular season is scheduled to kick off on June 16, when the Argos play host to Montreal.

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In the interim, a new deal must be ironed out.

In any labour dispute, there are no winners, only losers.

Last season, the Argonauts came one win away from playing for a Grey Cup last season, albeit after a shortened 14-game season. With the likes of running back Andrew Harris and defensive lineman Ja’Gared Davis on board, the Argos have addressed needs on both sides of the field.

Toronto has a relatively young coaching staff and any day off the field represents a lost opportunity to install systems, especially on defence, where first-year co-ordinator Corey Mace must establish his philosophy.

Head coach Ryan Dinwiddie has dealt with all kinds of adversity from the moment he formally took over the job following the 2019 season, and this is just the latest in a long list of unfortunate circumstances he has been handed.

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The Argos did have the benefit of staging a three-day rookie camp at Guelph.

By all accounts, first-year CFL quarterback Chad Kelly showed promise.

What kind of impact Kelly will have depends on how well he performs when getting reps against veterans and how well he fares in the pre-season.

Well before rookie camp started, the Argos released running back D.J. Foster to pursue other opportunities.

The Argos seem bent on going with a Canadian at running back following the drafting and signing of Daniel Adeboboye.

In mid-January, stud linebacker Dexter McCoil Jr. announced his retirement to pursue a career in coaching.

Players come and go in the CFL, issues, setbacks and missteps are unavoidable.

When labour unrest surfaces, a team such as the Argos are in scramble mode.

Eventually, it will be business as usual once a collectively bargained deal is in place.

Football has gone dark in Guelph.

Technically, players are on strike.

A week ago, CFLPA membership voted 95% in favour of giving the union permission to initiate a work stoppage.

Once a new deal is in place, some clarity is expected on the status of all-star linebacker Chris Edwards, who was handed a six-game suspension by the league following the ugly aftermath of Toronto’s loss to the Ticats in the 2021 East final. It seemed far too harsh at the time.

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