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The Business of Hockey Discuss the financial and business aspects of the NHL. Topics may include the CBA, work stoppages, broadcast contracts, franchise sales, NHL revenues, relocation and expansion.

Panaccio: It's the lower salaries, not the big salaries

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09-27-2004, 09:59 AM
Dr Love
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Panaccio: It's the lower salaries, not the big salaries


The problem, as we see it, is that what ownership did at the bottom end of the scale in free agency raised the bar for salaries at every level. Simply put, clubs vastly overpaid for the services of third- and fourth-line players, many of whom either had never scored 20 goals in a season or scored barely that many. In a league in which salaries jumped dramatically for 30-, 40- and 50-goal scorers in the '90s, there was no reason to make millionaires out of 20-goal-and-under guys. But ownership did.

In 1996, Ron Caron, the St. Louis Blues' general manager, signed Joe Murphy to a three-year, $10 million contract as a free agent. Here was a 22-goal scorer receiving an outrageous $3.3 million a season. So what should a 40-goal guy have been paid? Maybe $6 million? Maybe more?

In 1997, the Boston Bruins signed Dave Ellett to a three-year, $4.5 million contract. The pedestrian defenseman had scored 20 goals just once to that point but suddenly was being paid $1.5 million per season. The average NHL salary going into that summer was less than $900,000.

Consider how many elite players the NHL had in 1997. Now if a player of Ellett's limited capabilities is making more than the average, he's pushing up the salary of every player above him. Thank you, Harry Sinden.
Timmy P. has a good point. Elite talent is always going to get paid. But if the average player keeps getting more and more, then the elite player will too. Of course, there are a number of reasons why things have gotten out of hand, this is certainly one of them.

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09-27-2004, 10:10 AM
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In 1998, an arbitrator gave the Flyers' Trent Klatt a stunning $900,000. That award established that every fourth-liner in hockey was worth almost a million bucks, which was nonsense. That decision had a "trickle-up" effect throughout the league. You can't blame that one on the clubs.

Klatt at this time was not a 4th liner anymore. He had a 20 goal season and had a stellar playoff.

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09-27-2004, 10:59 AM
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Having 1 good season doesnt' make u an elite player

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09-27-2004, 11:09 AM
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The main problem is that the players aren't getting raises from the minimum (still $250 k I think), because nobody gets paid the minimum. Look at THN's Bucks and Pucks issue and if there is any player making the minimum he's an injury call-up from the minors. The salaries listed at USAToday show only 3 players getting less than $300 k. There are as many players making $7+ mil in the NHL as there are making less than $400 k. There are also more rookies making the rookie max than there are making anywhere near the minimum.

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