By: Taylor Dupuis
It’s been awhile since releasing a new “Between the Pipes” but guess what, we’re back! Happy New Year to everyone and apologies for the delay but there’s a lot to come in 2017!
You’ve probably heard “CHL Lawsuit” somewhere before or maybe this is the first time, but I don’t think there’s much player input out there and as a former CHL player, I think it’s time that happens. For those who might be unfamiliar with what is a current ongoing battle here’s the lawsuit that is being filed against the CHL, as per http://www.chlclassaction.com
“A lawsuit has been filed against the OHL and all of its member teams on the basis that former and current major junior hockey players should get paid real wages for playing hockey. It’s the quality of play and level of competition provided by the players that generates all the team’s revenues. In reality, major junior hockey players are employees, just like NHL players. The lawsuit will try to show this. If we are successful, then former and current players would be entitled to receive minimum wage and overtime pay, just like other young people who work for profit-making businesses.”
Where to begin? Well, let’s start with simple facts. Major Junior players receive $460 a month, with the exception of overage players who receive the sum of $900 per month. This is actually a significant raise from what it was say, when just four years ago players received $50/week with overagers earning $150/week. Not to mention, every player in the league now receives $1,000 during the off season, that can only be used for any sort of off season training that would benefit them for the upcoming season. To save you some work, over the course of an eight month season, that’s $3,680 and $7,200 respectively.
From a player’s perspective, that’s not too shabby at all, as many players would say, they are “living the dream”. But how much time do they all spend at the rink that people might not realize? What kind of perks are in it for them if they’re not getting paid what some *cough* think they should be? Do they get bonuses based on performance?
Here’s a breakdown an average week in the OHL from what would be tweo years from now but talking with former teammates and current friends, not much has changed.
Monday-Thursday: 10:00-11:00am Morning workout (high school guys after practice)
Friday: 10:00-11:00am Morning Skate
Saturday: Roadtrip (time may vary) plus 3.5 hour game
Sunday: Day off/potential game
Obviously each week will vary but for the most part, it’s safe to say that that’s an average week in the OHL. That comes out to roughly anywhere between 23-30 hours depending on road trips. Turn that into minimum wage and players would be making an estimated $300-$400/week.
Being a former player, I wouldn’t blame you for questioning why the hell I wouldn’t be at the front of the line for this lawsuit in hopes of getting a big payday that is supposedly owed to me from all my hours of “work”. I mean, they did mention how major junior players are employees just like NHL players, right? For all I care, that’s a load of crap and here’s exactly why this lawsuit is simply full of ignorant, dumbfounded business-minded people who are trying to make something out of nothing and create a gathering full of like-minded people that in reality, will never happen.
First of all, anyone who has played the game no matter of the level, but more in particular at the junior level, knows full well that it is a privilege to play the game and you can’t just slap a price tag on the experiences you gain and everything you get to do. As you get to the major junior level, as we all know, you need somewhere to stay.
For those who don’t know, billeting hockey players is by no means a source of income. These people do not put up players to try and make money, but rather to help out a community and to build personal relationships with those players. Billets are reimbursed roughly $100 a week per player in their household by the team and I say reimbursed because 99% of the time, that money is already gone to groceries, gas, toiletry, etc. Basically everything it takes to keep up with the needs of an athlete’s lifestyle which definitely differs from the norm.
Road trips: Probably my favourite part of junior hockey, definitely the part you remember the most that’s for sure. Those five, six, or seven hour bus trips, the four to five meals per weekend for pre-game and post-game (not counting the other small meals players pay for themselves already), water and gatorade, all these small expenses to make sure that players are able to perform, obviously they add up. I mean, the bus in itself with built-in wifi and tv’s is worth who knows how much per trip, now add on all those small expenses I mentioned.
Gear + extras: Every hockey parent won’t be shy to tell you how expensive hockey equipment is and it may be part of the reason they’re excited to see you leave home to play junior hockey. Because teams cover that. Gloves, skates, pants, shoulder pads, goalie pads, helmets, gitch, shorts, t-shirts, hoodies, my god the start of every season was Christmas!
Education packages: Teams and league officials will be the first to tell you that their priority for their players is to succeed at hockey, but also be successful in their post-junior career, whether that’s still playing or going to school. That is why an educational package is offered to each player before they play Major Junior. They understand the sacrifices you’ve made up to this point and good willingly fork out thousands upon thousands for their graduating players to get an education once their junior career is done.
These education packages are paid for by the team, not the league.
My whole point in explaining this is that what would happen if teams said “Okay, you guys want to be employees with wages? Fine, but unfortunately you must cover your billet expenses, equipment, hotel costs, food, gas, etc. etc. etc.” It’s hard to think how the league could operate remotely close to how it is now. Players are proud to be part of organizations because of how well each one treats them. We’re proud to donate our time to the community, visiting schools, reading to kids and signing autographs.
It’s a dream come true for hockey players, so lets not lose sight of that.
Can we please try to not ruin a good thing here? We play because we love the game, anything on top of it is simply a bonus. Feel free to leave feedback or simply comment if you agree or disagree!
Talk to you guys soon,
#29 Taylor Dupuis