Between The Pipes With Taylor Dupuis / Junior Hockey

Are OHLers Properly Compensated?

By: Taylor Dupuis
Taylor Dupuis

Taylor Dupuis while with the Sarnia Sting. Photo by Metcafle Photography

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)
3:00-4:30pm Practice
Friday: 10:00-11:00am Morning Skate
5:30-9:00pm Game
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.

Enter billets…

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!taylor-dupuis-photo-2

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

9 thoughts on “Are OHLers Properly Compensated?

  1. Very well written and on the point. Anyone looking to diminish the way CHL players are treated should look at most Jr. A Tier II leagues. Pay to play anywhere from $3000 to $8000. I’ve been involved in both levels and I believe the CHL and its hockey club owners treat players very well.

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  2. I am so proud that you as a young gentleman can stand up and speak that it is a pleasure to play hockey and not every kid gets that chance and the ones that do should be grateful for what the team does for them and I agree totally with you Taylor 110% they shouldn’t be going out to wreck a good thing that’s working for players …

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  3. Taylor, you are right on, some players need to wake up and realize the opportunity they have and not work so hard at ruining it for themselves and all those who will follow. Love your articles and am always looking forward to read them when they come out.

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  4. In my work, my employer pays for all of my travel to areas away from my work. So if I have to be in Newfoundland and as part of my work, my Employer pays for me to fly there and back, puts me up in a hotel and provides a rental vehicle, and all my meals while away from home. My job is to get myself to my home office … anywhere else is on my employer. So travel expenses for road games should be considered the employees responsibility and not the players … and therefore not part of the remuneration the player receives. Travel time is also work time.

    Same for equipment. My employer supplies me with the equipment I need to do my job well. Hockey teams try to supply their players with the very best equipment to have that competitive advantage. The name of the game is wins and so the owner tries to provide that advantage to get wins. The rest is simply part of the uniform that is also the responsibility of the owner. The owners can decide to cheap it on equipment … back to wooden sticks, etc. … or make it the players responsibility. But if another owner is providing the best of everything, who has the advantage ?

    While I agree billets are part of the remuneration it is an arguable point. Because of the draft, players have to leave their homes to play hockey … and they don’t get to choose where they go. They can’t decide to stay at home and play for their local team unless thats the way the draft or a trade went. If I am working way up north, away from my home, my employer pays to house me. But that remuneration is actually saving the parents money … not the player. The teams want the best players and the best players have to move to their cities to play there. There is something wrong with that that makes it part of the responsibility of the owners … maybe a shared expense. Plus, most of the CHL players are minors when they enter the league and so the teams are obligated to properly care for them.

    While bursary money is definitely pay, it is not paid regularly to the player and the player has no access to it until 4 or 5 years after starting in the CHL. And then, if they don’t follow all of the rules in place, they get nothing. It can’t actually be considered pay until the player actually receives it. If the rules changed and the players were given access to that money at the end of each season … then there is less argument.

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  5. Geez, I agree wholeheartedly… player junior is both a choice and privilege, I loved every minute of it. I played in Windsor from 84 to 86 and part of the 86/87 year before being traded to Belleville we were paid $40 before taxes ! And I still wouldn’t have changed a minute of it

    Brian Blad

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  6. Well said. As a sting fan/ and a goal judge from 94 to 2011 i have said since day one of this law suit. It is a load of crap. If these players have to start to pay for everything from rent to the $300 plus sticks out of thier own pocket they will realize how easy they had it. If they rule teams musy pay wages. Your Sarnia Sting team and may others may fold.

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  7. At the end of the day none of anyone’s thoughts matter. The law is the law and the league’s and teams have been breaking the law for many years. If they want to go about trying to change the laws then that’s a different story. But to make outrageous comments about off ice training money, free sticks and living the dream in lieu of obeying the law, it’s comical.

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