Well, this union business in the CHL isn't going away anytime soon.
Unifor, the outfit which has taken on the players' cause, was set to meet with the Ontario government today to hash out its concerns over junior hockey players not being adequately compensated by the league.
It's a complicated issue, that's for sure.
Here are few points by yours truly on the issue:
- The Kitchener Rangers are one of the more profitable teams in the OHL and after paying bills and charity donations the club posted a net operating surplus of $22,165 in 2012-13. If that's what the Rangers are pulling in, then I don't want to see the books for teams such as Owen Sound, Sarnia, Belleville or Peterborough.
- Right now, players can receive up to $470 per month for expenses, such as gas, food and cell phone bills, among other things. Another $1,000 per player is available for summer training.
- Players typically get a paid year of post-secondary education for every year played in the OHL, though some players can negotiate better deals. The players have 18 months from the end of their OA year (20-year-old season) to use the packages. The education deal is void if they ink an NHL contract. I believe the OHL should wave the 18-month window and make it 10 years.
- OHL teams pay for billets (food, lodging), equipment, travel, per diems on game day (in some cases), education consultants and all the usual game day needs - rentals, staff, advertising, ticketing etc...
- There is lots of talk about an hourly wage for players. I'm not sure that is entirely fair. I don't know how you quantify how many hours are put in. A flat salary seems the way to go if a monetary return is the end game by a union.
- Union sympathizers keep talking about all these players coming out of the woodwork who support the idea of a union. Where are they? I've yet to hear from one single active player who is on board with the idea.
Now, I imagine that some may fear repercussions for speaking out and that's understandable, though would Erie really reduce Connor McDavid's ice time if he spoke up? I doubt it. Same goes for all the other teams. None can afford to sit or treat their star players poorly.
That's why, if the union is going to fly, it's the league's star players who need to lead the charge. Players with NHL deals, who don't need the dough, and who are leaders on their clubs and in their respective cities must band together if this union is going to take off.
- The fact that there are teams in Canada and the U.S. really complicates any kind of union idea.
- OHL clubs are obviously going to act in their best interest. So too is a powerful union looking to increase its membership.
- What happens if the union goes through and players suddenly have to pay for their own food, rooms and equipment? You can kiss that salary good bye in that case. That being said, increased benefits for players - to which the OHL has made some strides recently - is certainly doable and warranted.