Just a little rant on players greed in the NHL. Yes, I know, this is a subject that has been beaten to death. But I needed to vent. Don’t bother reading if your just going to bash it or me.

First off, I know that hockey is a business, a capitalist industry, and as such, it isn’t strange that everyone goes for the almighty dollar over anything else. However, that still doesn’t make it right.

How many times have you heard a player say “I’d love to stay in (Name of City), I love it here, I hope the team can come up with something to keep me”. He’s basically saying “yes, it’s nice here, my team mates are good guys, this is where I became the player I am today, however, because the team is up against the salary cap, they may not be able to pay me as much as another team, so to hell with all the good, I’m going to abandon the team who helped me become who I am.”

Look at Teemu Selanne, who may not be able to resign with the Anaheim Ducks due to their cap limitations. It’s safe to say his non-Ducks career has been a shadow of how he performs in Anaheim. A consistent 30 (or more) goal scorer as a Duck, Selanne failed to crack the 30 goal mark in his two seasons with the San Jose sharks, and scored a measly 16 in a one year stint with Colorado (Not to mention that before he came to Anaheim, excluding his record setting rookie season, he only managed at most 25 goals). However after returning to Anaheim post-lockout, he has been a back-to-back 40 goal scorer, 88 goals in 162 games. The Ducks have 1.3 million in cap room left. It would be easy for Selanne to resign for 500k, and stay with the team that helps makes him great. Has he not made enough money in his career? And even if he hadn’t had a 14 season career that saw him be paid millions of dollars, is 500k not enough for a living? Is it not enough to live comfortably, and even fancy?

And it’s like that all over. In a recent interview, Jason Spezza stated that he would like to stay in Ottawa, would like to continue playing with Dany Heatley, but that the ball was in the Senators court, that they would have to come up with the number he is asking for. He almost won a Stanley Cup with this team. He still has the chance to do so. He is good friends with players like Heatley, Ray Emery and Brian McGrattan. And yet he’s willing to throw it all away for a bigger pay check. He already makes 5 million a year, does he need more? I probably won’t make 5 million over the span of my entire life. He makes 5 million a YEAR.

Other examples are Ryan Smyth, a self professed Oiler for life, who wouldn’t resign to a contract a little lower then his asking price. and eventually went to a division rival. Daniel Briere, who many thought was too small for the NHL, and was pretty useless in Phoenix. But Buffalo gave him a chance, and he blossomed into an All-Star and went to back-to-back Conference Finals. He left all that for the worst team in the league, who happened to offer him big money. I seriously doubt he thinks he has a better chance of winning the Stanley Cup with the Flyers than with the Sabres. Chris Drury, who once said (I’m paraphrasing) “Colorado said they liked me, and then traded me, Calgary said they liked me, and then they traded me, I sure hope Buffalo doesn’t say they like me”. That sure sounds like someone who is tired of moving. But, for the big money, he is willing to abandon the franchise that gave him a chance and wanted to keep him, a team that had a chance to win it all.

It’s different when a player moves because they’re careers are hindered in a city. If a player doesn’t have talented team mates, is on a losing team, and it’s holding back his development and chance to win, then maybe a move is justified. But to abandon the team that invested in you, gave you a chance to shine. All for the purpose of making your wallet fatter then it already is. It’s just sad.

Of course, GM’s are to blame as well. It’s them that offers up these huge contracts, it’s them that started it in the first place. But what happened to integrity? Honour? Loyalty? They are no more in today’s NHL, and that is truly tragic.

71 Responses to Greed

  1. flyerjim says:

    Edmonton Lowe-balled him and then traded him to the Isle. Then tried to get the hometown discount again in July. When that didn't work they offered up stupid money to Vanek and Penner??!! Where was the Oil's loyalty to Smyth??? He was was arguably the heart and soul of that team for the last 10yrs. They did the same thing with Mike Comrie.

    These players are not just jumping to the money- they are going to good, stable organizations. They are being offered long term contracts adding stability to thier personal and professional lives. They are going to teams that have a commitment to win. Both the Flyers and Avs had down years, but their team leaders (Sakic, Biron, Kapenen) and ownership have communicated that commitment to new potential teammates.

    You've never heard of an NHL player holding out until his current contract is restructured (a la Larry Johnson or many other NFL players).  A NHL star has 1 maybe 2 contract chances to hit it big, especially in the cap world…..even Crosby is just 1 big hit away from retirement.  I remember someone asking Ed Snider and Bob Clarke a few years ago if they felt John LeClair wasn't playing up to his contract (which was pretty beefy at the time).  Their response was he was so under-paid for all those (50 goal) years, that this was his reward.  Those days are gone- players are going to be paid on potential and what they are doing right now.  In the Flyers case- Briere and Timonen may have been the only sure things out there this off season.  They were coveted by almost every team, and paid accordingly.

    GM's are getting wise to this and signing their big guns to extensions in the last year of their deal well before any team can even get rumours started.  Thornton, Marleau, Crosby, etc.  There is a big crop of RFA talent due up in July, that crop will dwindle down as the season progresses and teams sign these guys to extensions before the Kevin Lowes of the league offer them more money.

  2. flyerjim says:

    Smyth wasn't a FA in February….the Oil traded him on their own merits.  They could have kept him and tried to work out a deal in March , April, and June- but they didn't.  They sold him.

  3. mozzy says:

    All professional athletes are overpaid. I fully understand your frustration. But these guys don't look at their paychecks in perspective of what other middle class citizens make. They only benchmark their pay around others in the league. It becomes a game of principle and somewhat ego. No one NEEDS $5 million a year or anywhere near that. At least Hockey players are credible athletes who are, skill wise, a step above every other sport. Baseball, Football, and basketball players are mostly ignorant, self centered scumbags who are disgustingly overpaid.

  4. antmonkey says:

    drury was rookie of the yr with colorado and helped them win a cup, then they traded him for leopold (I think). His trades are b/c other teams offer good players in exchange for him, not b/c he wasn't given a chance. Everywhere he's played he has been a top 2 center and a big (or at least partial) leader of the team. He didn't like being the second choice, you could even see it on his face at the news conference where he was introduced with gomez. If you look at his face, you could see that he didn't know they were signing gomez and he might not have been to happy about it. NYR fans should just be glad that drury got his number 23 cuz it might give him a little boost of confidence. (no I can't read minds, but I can read body language)

    p.s. I don't care if you disagree, so don't bother with the "you can't know what he was thinking" posts.

  5. antmonkey says:

    nope, the salary cap is supposed to give the teams cost certainty so they can budget. It'll make every team spend 25 million on 3 or 4 players then fill the rest of the roster with 500k-1mill players. The stars still make the big bucks, but the pay equality is WAY off (hey, kinda like in the rest of society where 10% of the population makes 80% of the money).

  6. THEGREATHAB says:

    How is this different than any other career.  When I started work,  I started at a lower wage,  and when my skills improved I left that company for another for more money, and have repeated this trend for the last 15 years.  I think its safe to say that just about everyone would leave todays job,  for a higher paying one.  Why hold a player to a higher standard than the rest of us,  just because they are millionaires?  I would go to work anywhere for an extra million.

  7. antmonkey says:

    are you serous? I never heard about that offer! if it's true and JFJ turned it down then there must be some sort of chemistry issue. Maybe with peca as a solid #2 center wellwood and the other young guys wouldn't get the playing time they need to develop. I'm hoping that was his reasoning cuz there is no other logical explanation for NOT signing a guy like peca to a 500k contract.

  8. leaffansareajoke says:

    Actually Pronger makes 150 thousand less on an average basis. Don’t forget that in the last 2 years of Timonens contract he’ll make 5 mil and 3 mil. Pronger on the other hand makes 6.25 every year.

    Can’t look at the actualy number each year, you have to look at the average.

  9. leaffansareajoke says:

    You obviously hold some vendetta against corporations.  Which i guess is fine, because some people in the world do get screwed (Enron). 

    Being good at hockey does make you better then someone else.  You keep forgetting that the fans pay these players.  If we don't like the salaries, we should stop going to the games.  Stop paying the ticket price. 

    I for one would trade anything in the world to play Hockey in the NHL.  But i sucked at hockey, and i didn't work hard enough to get there. (not even close). 

    Also remember, the more money you make, the more you pay in bills.  Its how the world works.  As you enter the upper echelon on the 1% of the American population, new taxes come out of the woodwork to help rape you.  With more money comes finacial responsibility.  Where to put all your money.  THe more money you make, the more you pay for a house and cars.  Are you now going to tell me because they make so much money they should buy honda's and live in condo's?

    This isn't greed.  This is life.

  10. leaffansareajoke says:

    I'm going to look into that, because i remember Briere saying he was never offered anything.

  11. leaffansareajoke says:

    And thats not greed.  Thats taking an oppurtunity and goign with it.  Greed is when you demand and/or gouge a people for more money.

    I'm right there with you man.  No job could keep me from a better higher paying job.

    Isn't that why we all go to college?  So when we're done we get a better paying job than the person who though college was useless and lives in an apartment with no electricity?  If us and that guy made the same amount, money would be useless. 

  12. jarcpitre says:

    I hear what your saying and yes its sad. I believe in the cap, however if it were put together a little different then this would all be avoided. Lets say if every player had a base salary and each player got paid bonuses for performance. I.E. a good plus player would get bonuses, so much for goals, so much for assists, just about every stat to accomadate everyone. If this was the case there wouldn't be so much movement in the NHL and players changing teams. With what some players are doing today, it shows you that winning the cup to them isn't everything, its all about the bucks. IMO the cap isn't working the way it was designed, it was to avoid the huge signings and to spread the money to build a competitve team. But, here we are back to the huge signings again and we're back to sqare one.

  13. jarcpitre says:

    Agree with you about the merits. Read my comment below, we are on the same page here. IMO each player should have a base salary and get paid on performance, you would get the most out of your players in each area thats for sure.

  14. habsrock99 says:

    Well, Buffalo did offer Briere a contract. They offered him a few from what I heard and he bluntly told them "No, I want MORE, MORE, and MORE"

  15. MR40 says:

    If it was a longer deal it would make more sense. By the time he's leave St. Louis they'll be playoff team and soon a Cup contender.

  16. PointMeAtTheSky says:

    You know, I think that's a great idea.

    base salary of say 500k…for every goal another say…100k, for every assist, 50k, So a 50 goal, 100 point  scorer would make 8 million.

    For a defenseman, +/- could also be used as a factor as well.

    Goalies would be more complicated. Probably would have to go by games played as well as GAA and S%.

    Market value wouldn't change, but players would earn their money every year based on that years performance.

    This would eliminate the need for a hard cap.

    Of course, the numbers I used were just for the purpose of example, not my suggestion of what the salaries should be.

  17. jarcpitre says:

    Exactly. Of course it would take a little time to figure out the bonuses, but the whole team would be built on role players, it would seem more like a job then wouldn't it, they'd have to earn their money. It would be good to even say to a player sorry man you didn't make your bonuses so we're looking for someone else to fill your position. Just playing there a bit but I believe a system like this would work and it would eliminate the hard cap. If the NHL makes more money then more bonus money goes to the teams.

  18. rojoke says:

    You're a better man than most, myself included.  And some would say you're a damned fool.

    You make it sound like it's as simple as the amount of the cheque, but as naive and optimistic as it may sound, sometimes it isn't.  Sometimes it's about the team on the ice, the atmosphere of the city you're in, the quality of life, the family you leave behind when you're on the road during those six or seven months during the season.  Some guys like the big city, and some like a quieter pace.  All we get to hear about is dollar figures, but we don't get to hear what the wives think, the player/coach relationship.  Quite often, the money is the lure, particularly if the team isn't particularly good, and that has a ripple effect around the league.

  19. rojoke says:

    In the grand scheme of things, yes they are.  In perfect world, police officers and law enforcement, firefighters, military personnel would make 10x more than they do.  Politicians would make a stipend.  And all pro athletes would be paid based on their performance, individually or as a team.

  20. rojoke says:

    I suppose it depends on what your individual definition of "greener pastures" is.  For some, it's all about the money.  For some, it's the realization that they've come to a point where they've achieved all they can possibly achieve there, and look for a new challenge.  Moving to a new city, new environment, taking on a different role.  Once you're reached a certain level of success, you would hope that there would be a wide array of opportunities made available to you based on that success, and of course you are going to use the peers in your field to determine your own value.  If you over-value yourself, you will know in a hurry.  And if the demand is high enough for your services, you may end up earning more than you started out wanting.

    And then of course there's the agents.

  21. FrankTheTank3388 says:

    I agree 100% with the author of the article.

    However, I don't agrewe with you. Hockey is still a loving sport, it's the only loving sport. The salaries in hockey aren't nearly as bad as any other sport out there. Look at the obvious in basketball and baseball, they get paid almost triple the highest paid player in the NHL to do what? Run? Throw some baskets? Hit some balls? Hockey players get hit in 82 games a year, have to skate hard, and don't get nearly as many breaks. Baseball players have to really move maybe once every 15-20 minutes with the exception of pitchers. Basketball players just run and throw a ball, it's probably the hardest sport to get injured in.

    The other major sport is football. Granted, they get paid a slightly more reasonable salary but they still on average get paid more than hockey players. They get paid that much for what? To play in around 30 plays once a week? Are you kidding me? Look at some of these #1 defensemen in the league, they play 25+ minutes a night, and they play 2-4 games a week!

    In a way, they are justified in complaining about their salaries compared to other sports since they work the hardest and get paid the least, but still, that's no excuse to really leave a team you love. However, you see all these other sports that can get you paid so much more, to stick with hockey, that proves you love it. Besides, you can definately not say that when you look into minor leagues. I play hockey once a week, I have to wake up at 5am when I go to bed pretty late the night before. I don't mind, why? Because I love the game. So does everybody else who plays in my league, that's why we don't mind waking up so early. Hockey is the coolest sport on earth that is loved for the game itself, and it always will be.

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