Five Things You Don't Know About the Lockout

Since we all wait with baited breath for the next scheduled negotiation between NHL head honcho Gary Bettman and NHLPA svengali Bob Goodenow, I thought it prudent that I share some facts with you about the current state of affairs in the league and players’ association.1) For any player who wants to play in the National Hockey League, membership in the NHL Players’ Association is completely VOLUNTARY. There is no law or rule that says a player must join the union. According to the last collective bargaining agreement (and the ones before it):

“Every player has the option of joining or not joining the Association; provided, however, that as a condition of employment for the duration of this Agreement and wherever and whenever legal:

a. any active player who is or later becomes a member in good standing of the NHLPA must maintain his membership in good standing in the Association; or

b. any active player who is not a member in good standing of the NHLPA must, on the 30th day following the beginning of his employment, pay, pursuant to Section 4.02 below or otherwise, to the NHLPA an annual service fee in the same amount as the periodic dues.”

Yes, you read that correctly. The players’ association, with the league’s consent, still gets its piece of any player’s pie even if they are not union members. I can only assume that in the event that a player is not a union member, the “fees” he has to pay only go to line the pockets of other players in the form of a pension fund. Sounds like blackmail to me.

Questions: Is this legal? Have the trade unions in the US become so powerful that they can bully their way into getting paid no matter what?

2) The executive committee of the NHLPA is made up of the following players: Trevor Linden, Bob Boughner, Vincent Damphousse, Daniel Alfredsson, Bill Guerin, Trent Klatt and Arturs Irbe.

Did everyone get that last part? ARTURS IRBE!

Question: How the hell does this happen? And what the hell good is a slob like Irbe to a union committee when he wasn’t even “working” 90% of the time last season?

3) This past season, on away game days, each NHL player was paid $85. This is not part of their salary. This is their per diem meal allowance, as stipulated by the collective bargaining agreement. Over the course of the regular season, after 42 away games, this adds up to be $3,570 for each player. That’s just the regular season, not including the playoffs.

Think of the math – 25 players per club multiplied by 30 clubs is 750. 750 players multiplied by $3,570 is $2,677,500.

That’s over $2.6 million just so these guys can GO OUT TO EAT.

Questions: Do players like Nicklas Lidstrom and Jaromir Jagr actually need an $85 per diem? Does a lower-tier player who makes $300K actually need a per diem? Do you know how many homeless and hungry people you can feed for $2.6 million?

4) Any agent who represents an NHL player must become a “certified agent” by the players’ association:

“The NHL and the Clubs agree that the Clubs are prohibited from engaging in individual contract negotiations with any agent who is not designated by the NHLPA as being duly certified (“Certified Agent”) by the NHLPA in accordance with its role as exclusive bargaining agent for NHL players. The NHLPA shall publish and provide to the NHL and the Clubs a list of agents who are currently certified in accordance with its Agent Certification Program and, for each player, the name of the certified agent, if any. The NHLPA shall notify the NHL and the Clubs, by way of publishing and providing them with a comprehensive updated list, setting forth any deletions or additions thereto.”

Additionally, if a player wishes to negotiate a contract with any club, he either must do it on his own or have a “certified” agent do it for him:

“No Club shall enter into a Player Contract with any player and the NHL shall not register or approve any Player Contract unless such player: (i) was represented in the negotiations by a Certified Agent as designated by the NHLPA under Section 6.1; or (ii) if Player has no Certified Agent, acts on his own behalf in negotiating such Player Contract.”

Questions: There are some pretty intelligent players out there, why don’t they negotiate their own deals and keep the sycophants out of the process? Anyone else wonder what kind of “process” people like Carl Lindros and Doug Messier had to go through to become “certified” agents?

5) In addition to any salary and bonuses agreed to in a players contract, bonuses are paid to the award winning players BY THE LEAGUE. Each major award winner (i.e. Hart, Norris, Vezina, etc.) gets $3,700. The runners-up get $1,250.

The starting 6 players on each all-star team get $6,000 each. The next six voted in get $2,750. Again, this is in addition to negotiated salary.

The Stanley Cup-winning team also receives a bonus from the league. This past spring, the Tampa Bay Lightning, as a team, earned an extra $13.5 million, to be distributed equally among the players (part-time players receive their bonus on a pro-rated basis). Yet again, this is in addition to negotiated salary.

Additionally, “Each player on the Club with the most points in each of the four (4) divisions shall receive $5,000 (native currency) for seasons through 1999/00 and $6,000 (native currency) for seasons after 1999/00. Each player on the Club with the second most points in each of the four (4) divisions shall receive $2,500 (native currency) for seasons through 1999/00 and $3,000 (native currency) for seasons after 1999/00.” Yup, that’s still another tack-on.

Last but not least, the players from the President’s Trophy-winning club also receive $250,000.

Questions: If these bonuses are being paid by the league, who says there is nothing to play for? And why are there additional bonuses necessary in individual player contracts?

Disgusted yet? You should be.

16 Responses to Five Things You Don't Know About the Lockout

  1. rojoke says:

    The “Association” collects money from non-members. Well now, that’s interesting. The best analogy I can come up with is if you were walking by a bar, and the doorman stop you outside and asks you to pay the cover charge.

    “But I’m not going into the bar,” you tell him.

    “Doesn’t matter, you still have to pay the cover,” he says. “After all, you walked by the door.”

    “But I don’t want to go in your bar. I just want to go on my way.”

    “You can go on your way, right after you pay me the cover.”

    So what happens to players who are not members in good standing? Are they suspended from the league? In theory, if they are not members “in good standing” of the PA, would they be not locked out? Could they, in theory, be free to play in a league with replacement players, since they were never actual members to start with?

    I don’t know for certain, but I think the executive is elected for a specified term, maybe two or three years or whatever. Irbe may have been on an NHL roster when the time came to elect an executive. Remember, he’s only two years removed from a Cup final appearance.

    The per diem is laughable. I was always under the impression that the teams ate pre-game meals at the hotel as a group, with the hotel often catering it.

    The “agent certification” is a complete joke. Just four words to sum it up. David Frost’s background check.

    “Hey Bob, this is your buddy Dave.”

    “Hey, Dave. how are ya doin’, pal.”

    “Pretty good, Dave. Listen, I got a favor to ask you.”

    “Sure, Dave, what can I do for you?”

    “Can I be an agent?”

    “Well, that depends, Dave. Are you gonna steal from your clients?”

    “Uh, no.”

    “Okay, you’re an agent.”

    “Gee, thanks Bob.”

    “Anytime, Dave. Good luck.”

    I didn’t even know the league paid bonuses for the end-of-season awards. I posted a proposal that would have seen all the trophy incentives become league-paid, but I had them much higher than they’re actually paying. The major awards are only worth $3,700. The players get almost as much money in their per diems!

  2. Aetherial says:

    Or Carl Lindros

    “Hey Bob, I am going to be Erica’s agent”.

    “No you’re not, you are his mother”

    “Whaaa Whaaa, I’ll sue, Whaaa, Erica will never play in the NHL, Whaaa Whaaa, I’ll pinch you… Whaa Whaaa”.

    “Ok, fine you’re an agent, just shut up already. Here’s a tissue”.

  3. Aetherial says:

    I don’t know if I am disgusted, more like amused.

    I am guessing this stuff is just carried over from CBA to CBA from the time when players did not earn that much. They probably suck and whine about this being their traditional entitlement. (some of the finishing bonuses are probably new).

    I find it just as stupid as things like athletes winning cars and stuff. I mean come on, did Gretzky really need 11 cars or something.

    This is exactly the kind of crap that should be cut out.

  4. PayUpSucka says:

    Just when you started to sway a little back towards the players side we read this. Crazy is all I can say.

    I hope the f uckers choke on their escargot and cavier.

    Booty it’s time you and Bettmen and Goodenow all get together and hammer this deal out, you know more about the CBA than do 90% of the players, and thats no joke.

  5. hockeyhead says:

    also players will make between 40,000 and 60,000 dollars this year. money from dues and such i believe.

  6. simplyhabby says:

    Well Unions on the whole suck so that is no suprise with the blackmail issue of you are either with us or you pay us.

    Artis Irbe does not suprise me either. He is the prototypical Union executive. Get fat off other people.

    $2.7 million for the entire league to eat on away games is not that bad if you think about it. Sure $85 per day to eat is a little much but think about it, these guys are elite athletes and not cooks on the road. They need high energy meals to support their rigourous lifestyle hence expensive meals. They can trim the amount by $10 or so but realistically, its not that bad.

    There have been may intelligent players in the NHL from Ken Dryden to Joe Juneau. Just because you are intelligent, does not mean you are a good negotiator. These guys have a lot of other prior comittments. If you were in the players situations, wouldn’t you want a professional handling your endorsments and contracts?

    As for the performance incentives, the NHL elite get paid very well for being elite. What ever happened with the satisfaction of being named the top player in a specific catagory?

  7. 19Yzerman says:

    There is nothing wrong with players being paid for achievements.

    After all if you take into consideration what it takes for a player to be in the NHL. Hockey parent’s taking kids to youth hockey. The cost of ice time, lessons and playing gear over the years become quite an investment. Even quality of life can become compromised from bodly injury to time missed from family. Sure its a lot of money but, if it was easy everyone would be doing it.

  8. Beckfan5 says:

    Whats your point about the $85 per road game meal money? In my industry we feed our employees everyday, and they dont pay for the food.

    Whats wrong with Doug Messier negotiating a contract for his son. The dude was involved in hockey for 20 something years before Mark became a pro.

    And guys, the last time I checked, we watch hockey because of the players, NOT the owners.

    And remember Booty, all this crap you typed up, the owners “agreed” to it as well.

  9. rojoke says:

    But there’s something wrong with being overpaid and underachieving.

  10. rojoke says:

    A little bit more on the agent certification deal, and it doesn’t involve David Frost either. Well, not directly.

    For those of you don’t know about it, player agent Garnet McBride had his “certification” revoked. Embezzlement? Fraud? Player abuse? No. He allegedly gave a reporter acces to the NHLPA’s internal website, made available to agents for research purposes and communications between them and the PA. Baiscally he pissed Bob off, so until further notice, McBride’s “not allowed” to speak on behalf of his client. Meanwhile, David Frost’s “creditation” is “under review” after he was banned from all arenas in an Ontario junior A hockey league after he allegedly made some comments to a referee after a game, in the referee’s locker room.

  11. 19Yzerman says:

    So if a team goes W17-L55-T10 then the players should have to give money back to the team and the team should have to give the money back to the fans???

    As long as the teams are charging the fans money to watch the players play. Then the players will be entitled to be paid in accordance with how much the team is charging its fans to watch them regardless of a games out come or any particular players performance in a game .

    This article is reflecting on the various individual awards and the monetary bonus for winning these awards. These players had to excel at their position to be awarded them and once awarded will go around with the bulls eye on their back the whole following season.

    As far as there being something wrong with being overpaid and underachieving goes. There are a lot of reasons for underachieving. If players effort is reason then I agree you 100%. The one that bugs me is when they play outstanding the season prior to UFA and get signed to a big contract in the beginning of a season in which they return to the level of play they were known for in the first place.

  12. UsedandAbused says:

    Interesting article… To be honest I don’t give a shit who makes money and what kind of bonuses these people get as long as I enjoy the product. However, right now there is no hockey and if it wasn’t for the Eagles 11-1 start I would be going through some pretty tough withdrawels. My point… What is my point? Oh Yea! There is TONS of money to go around for all these assholes, so they better have the season started Jan. In my personal opinion, they players are taking the FANS for granted.

  13. rojoke says:

    As long as the teams are charging the fans money to watch the players play. Then the players will be entitled to be paid in accordance with how much the team is charging its fans to watch them regardless of a games out come or any particular players performance in a game .

    According to the PA, there’s no relationship between ticket prices and salaries. I’ve seen both Ted Saskin and player agents say this on more than one occasion.

    I’m mainly referring to the current system of qualifying offers to restricted free agents. If a guy has the worst season of his career in the last year of his contract, a team still has to offer him the same money he made the year before, and the guys making less than the league average get a 10% raise in the offer. If a team wishes to resign a player when he’s in is RFA year, they should have a deadline to offer him a contract. If they don’t feel he’s playing to previous performance levels, then that should entitle the team to state that by offering him what they think he’s worth, not what they paid him the previous year. If the player doesn’t agree, then he can make a counter offer, and the negotiation process begins.

  14. Malurous says:

    But you don’t HAVE to qualify an RFA if he’s not good enough. That happened a lot this past summer. The non-qualified RFA’s become UFAs at the same July deadline that UFAs become available. Teams can offer what they like and have exclusive negotiation rights until the deadline. Isn’t that what you wanted? It’s just that before this year, teams didn’t really give it a thought: they just qualified everyone regardless of performance.

    A good example of not qualifying that I remember was when Tampa Bay resigned d-man Nolan Pratt in summer 2003. He had a $715,000 contract, but was resigned at $425,000, never receiving a qualifying offer. That’s how it can go for the smart team.

  15. guinsfan4life says:

    I wonder if those players who decide not to pay into the union will still get represented by the union if they have a discrepancy with ownership or suspensions, etc. ? I would assume they do because they are still paying a fee…very confusing.

  16. cecilturtle says:

    Wow Mr. Big Booty, This year I really miss cutting down your Flyers and bragging about the Rangers. Before the Rangers annual long losing streek knocks them out of the playoffs of cource! How your Phantoms doing. Not as good as hatfid now are day!

    Cecil Turtle.

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