NHLPA's definition of

After hearing the NHLPA regurgitate over and over again that all they are looking for is a “fair” deal, I decided to check it out and see what their definition of the word “fair” actually means. I looked all over their NHLPA.com website and found no definition of exactly what they consider to be “fair”, so I thought I’d send them an e-mail and ask. Unfortunately, they appear to be the only website in creation not to have a “Contact Us” section. In fact the only place on their website where I found a place to contact them, (except for all the stupid promotions and links to buy things), was their link to that God-awful “Be A Player!” show that they use to pat themselves on the back. I guess they only care about the fans if they’re supporting their other source of income (their “second job”, so to speak).

Looking in my dictionary, I find that the word “fair”, in this context, is defined as “Showing no partiality; just; upright” or “Moderately satisfactory or acceptable; passably good”. Now, since the NHLPA does not consider the salary tax systems of the NBA and the NFL to be “fair”, and everyone but the NHLPA knows that the CBA of the “New York Yankees” Baseball League doesn’t work, I thought I should look elsewhere.

Since, the NHLPA contends that hockey is an entertainment business and cannot be compared to employment at General Motors or McDonalds’s, I thought “That’s fair” (no pun intended), and maybe I should look at the actual entertainment industry. So, I went to the Screen Actor’s Guild (SAG) website, the Hollywood actor’s equivalent of the NHLPA, and was surprised to find at least three ways to contact them right on their home page (a little different then the NHLPA’s). Also different from the NHLPA’s website was that they had a link, right on their home page, to “Rate Information”. Any actor, producer, director or member of the public like myself, can log onto their website and find out their union negotiated rates. This is something that cannot be found on the NHLPA’s website. I guess they don’t want the average Joe to know. The SAG website, however, clearly lists rates and numbers, such as the minimum salary for what it defines a “Major Role Performer – TV Episodic Prime-Time Networks, FBC, UPN and the WB”. So, for example, I can find out that an actor working on a prime time network TV show can be paid no less than $3, 644 a week for a half hour show, or $5, 831 a week for a full hour show. So, I estimate about $130 thousand a season for a half-hour show, and $200 thousand for a full hour show, keeping in mind that an actor of a TV show does not work for three to four months during the summer. SAG also has different rates for working more or less than 13 weeks, so their contracts aren’t exactly guaranteed long term like a hockey player who signs a four year deal.

For comparison, I had to go to NHL.com to find hockey’s CBA agreement, since it was no where to be found on the NHLPA website. Here on NHL.com it was listed in full, along with many options for contacting them, (including chat lines, and job opportunities). Looking in the CBA I found that maximum amounts are much more prominent when talking about first time player contracts than minimums. In fact, I had to look into a different section to find the minimum salary of the average player playing in the NHL. The maximum a rookie can be paid in 2004 is $1,295,000, not including bonuses. I also found that the minimum a player may make, if he is playing in the minors is $30 thousand. In other words, the minimum a player who isn’t even in the NHL yet can make is 1/4 of the minimum of someone consider to be a “Major Role Performer” in a half-hour prime time television show. For the 2004/2005 season, the minimum a player can be paid to play is $185 thousand. Keep in mind that we all know that players who make $185 thousand are few and far between, and if you do find one, chances are he’s only warming the bench or stewing in the minors.

So what, if anything, have we learned here? The minimums are not entirely that far off from what they would be in the entertainment industry. But the differences are quite significant. First of all, I would be hard pressed to find a television show, half-hour or full hour, that had 18 contracts like an NHL roster. In fact, some teams have upwards of 30 players under guaranteed contracts whether they’re on the active roster or not. Compare this to the five or six actors who make up the cast of a television show and you can immediately see where things are out of whack. Secondly, actors with a first time series are more often than not given the union minimums. In fact, there are even lower rates for first time actors. This rarely happens in the NHL. Players negotiate contracts far greater than the minimum before even playing a game. Thirdly, commercial revenues from TV shows are given directly to the network which financed them. In the NHL, there are many fingers in the pie, what with the NHLPA stamp on every jersey that is sold. Lastly, demand, and therefore revenues, for TV shows is much greater, and the only costs are the actual production and the cast salaries. The NHL has facility costs that TV shows do not.

Considering that the NHL has already offered the players a guaranteed 53% of their revenues which amounts to the average salary being $1.3 million, I think the NHL’s offer fits comfortably into the definition of being “moderately satisfactory or acceptable; passably good”. By my estimation 53% of a $2 billion dollar industry is fair by any definition.

P.S. I would sent this article to the NHLPA, but I don’t know how to contact them. The next time I hear Goodenow or Saskins say that the fans don’t really know the situation, I’m going to know for certain that they are wrong.

6 Responses to NHLPA's definition of

  1. aafiv says:

    …interesting article. You can’t blame the Union for not having a Contact Us form on their site, they’d be inundated by useless email and they don’t work for the fans – unlike the league which does.

    You can’t compare sports to a half-hour sitcom.

    Most half-hour TV shows fail, unlike major sports leagues and teams. Furthermore, the ones that succeed have to pay more for their actors and everyhting else.

    I think that the point that you are missing is that

    the problems that a new CBA has to address – from the owner’s point-of-view – is their own bad behavior. The reason there is no hockey right now is that the owners have locked out the players because the owners can’t follow their own CBA guidelines to keep costs under control.

    I believe that the players should be allowed to accept whatever the owners are WILLING to pay them (Holik, Lapointe). Truth is, this last season and summer under the old CBA, the sprialing stopped. Did you notice that? I did.

    The owners have said we don’t want to pay, we’re going to force you to take what we want you to take and we’re going to lock you out until you agree. How would you like to be treated that way by someone with a hundred-times the money you have?

    I’d slash their tires.

  2. 19Yzerman says:

    I suppose 53% sounds pretty fair. I think that the League’s offer of 53% had to have had an amount that the 53% would hold up to and that all funds above would be retained by the league or something of that nature for the players to reject it.

    as for this Screen Actor’s Guild (SAG) website you mention of and how the NHLPA doesn’t have the same formatting for one to log on and see players salaries. I see this as no big deal. Most NHL player contracts are highly publicized and are listed in ever teams URO (Unified Report of Operations).

    It is easier for the players to stand in a unified manner to achieve one common goal then the owners. You see the owners once everything is back to business will be once again competing

    against each other.

  3. 19Yzerman says:

    Put sugar in their gas tanks, seduce their wives and

    Give their phone numbers to those telemarketers.

  4. FlamesRock says:

    I agree with you wholeheartedly on this issue. The players also say they want a free market, but a free market entails no union, no guarenteed contracts and all that. I think its repulsive when people blame the owners for the current situation. The players are like drug addicts.

    What the players are saying:

    Oh NO! The owner paid me too much I guess that means that I can only get an average salary of 1.3 million dollars if accept their deal. No I won’t have it. I want five porsches not 3, this is absolutely stupid.

    Man the players need to get a grip and realize they play a game for a living. They don’t risk their lives everyday. Pat Tillman (a former safety for the Arizona Cardinals) turned down a multimillion dollar deal to earn 16 grand in the army. How the come the communist players union won’t suck it up and realize that 1.3 million dollars is still a lot of money?

  5. Malurous says:

    It’s cool that the NHLPA site is so dark colored, it underlines their shady style. I’ve also noticed before that there are no contacts. Also, someone said that they don’t need to have as they’re not for the fans like the NHL is. First, it’s still good manners to have contacts on a web site of any organization. Second, if they aren’t for the fans, why have stories that are very good content? What are these stories there for, for the players to get to know each other? I’d say they are there for the fans.

    Also, I think they are handling this lockout stuff in the Internet much more fishy than the League. The NHL has a separate propaganda site that can’t be mistaken for anything else, while NHLPA pours propaganda in all kinds of features that are supposed to be objective. Not good journalism.

  6. 7thWoman says:

    Love it! I thought I was the only jerk who spends time looking up these types of facts and figures. Why won’t the PA let the fans contact them? Why do they write bizarre articles about players leaving to play in Europe? Are they paying nhlpa dues there with the nominal fees they’re being paid by overseas clubs? Are they encouraged to take jobs away from members of OTHER unions?

    They ARE entertainment. Well paid, well trained ENTERTAINMENT. This is NO Union. Both sides need to come to the realization that they better learn how NOT to bite the hand that feeds them. THE FANS.

    Ask any actor.

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