clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Worst Kept Secret

New, comments
Getty Images

Mark Edwards of HockeyProspect.com, June 6th:

If you're fave CHL team is poor, don't get too excited about seeing a Euro stud anyime soon. Most don't come cheap.

Neate Sager of Yahoo Sports, June 27th:

It's become a frequent sight to see small-market teams peddle a high import pick to a well-heeled franchise. Last season the Quebec Remparts traded up to No. 2 overall to land Mikhail Grigorenko, who become a first-round pick. Some teams have more resources to recruit a player who could stay in the his country's elite league or the KHL.

Dean Millard of The Pipeline Show, June 2nd:

Speaking to another CHL management source on the condition of anonymity when it comes to the import draft we're told while it's not as bad as people think, there are some sketchy tactics.

"The Vasilevski kid reportedly would have cost 6 figures..."

Matt Slovin of the Michigan Daily decided to poke the hornets' nest by reporting on a rumor that the Kitchener Rangers had offered Jacob Trouba $200,000 to sign with them. For anyone that's spent any amount of time in hockey circles, there's really nothing shocking about that offer, other than that it seems a tad low for a player of Trouba's caliber(as best I can tell, Trouba's offer is lower because he's only expected to play one year of juniors).

The Trouba family has since sent out a denial that any such offer was made, and reaffirmed Jacob's commitment to Michigan. You can't blame the Trouba family for not wanting to get involved in the middle of this. This type of thing has gone on for a long time, and it's not really fair to put them in the middle of it. More importantly, his advisor isn't going to get himsellf blackballed by the CHL by being the one to give away the secret.

Kitchener, in what has become self-parody at this point, has threatened a libel lawsuit against the Daily, after it worked out so well that time they pretended to sue Jeff Jackson. Their reaction is always an interesting one. I highly doubt the Rangers fear a visit from the OHL's former police officer/living human being in charge of rules enforcement.

So why does Kitchener care so much about word getting out that they'll pay top players, and perhaps more importantly, why don't the other, poorer teams in the league care that another team is allegedly breaking the rules so consistently? It's all about protecting what is one of the biggest scams in sports.

CHL players receive about $50 per week. This number has not been raised since the early 1980's. That's not averaged against the rate of inflation. That's not compared to the Consumer Price Index. It was $50 way back then. It's still $50. To give a little perspective on just how long that is, every player that will play in the OHL next year was at least ten years from being born. CHL players haven't gotten a raise in pay since Sault Ste. Marie general manager Kyle Dubas was born. Meanwhile, I'm willing to bet the amount of money CHL teams take in is significantly higher than it was in the early '80s. Ticket prices certainly aren't where they were in the early 80's. There's a good deal more advertising and sponsorships than there was in the early 80's as well. Where does all that money go?

Nobody involved in the CHL wants it getting out that a player like Jacob Trouba could make what divides out to about $8333 per week, while nearly everyone else in the league is making $50 a week, which is almost 167 times less than that. Again, to give those numbers a little perspective, if the NHL adopted that same pay scale, a highly coveted high-end player like Zach Parise or Ryan Suter would be worth four pennies under $87.5 million per year.

The average player stipend is so low that it is just too lucrative for CHL teams to let kids know that they have the ability to bargain for better deals. That's why payments for players will remain something that everybody knows, but nobody is willing to say, unless couched in the vaguest of terms like "more resources". Hopefully more kids are smart enough to read past the phony threats of lawsuits and realize that that money is out there for them.