Kukla's Korner

Above the Glass

So, no overtime pay, then?

Readers who were brave enough to read my last entry will be pleased to know that I have found a useful, grown up hobby: reading and interpreting choice bits from the Collective Bargaining Agreement. On tap this weekend: Article 50, which governs hockey-related revenue, player salaries and bonuses. So far, I only have one question. Is there anything for which NHL players don’t receive a bonus?

Signed, sealed, delivered: According to 50.2, Player Salary, Bonuses and Actual Club Salary, (b) “Bonuses,” a player may earn a bonus only for Signing, Performance, Roster or Reporting (to the extent permitted in this Agreement).  Bonuses, including “Deferred Bonuses,” means the aggregate amount of all sums that may be earned by a Player pursuant to SPCs on account of such bonuses. Note the use of the word “only.” Ya’ know, just in case the GMs were planning to sneak an extra bonus in there for extraordinary and exceptional achievements like the player putting on his uniform or drinking enough water.

Age before beauty: “Performance Bonuses” means any Bonuses set forth in a Player’s SPC, the payment of which is contingent on the Player’s achievment of some agreed-upon benchmark(s) related to his performance as a Player or his Club’s performance during a particular League Year. Young players with Entry Level SPCs are eligible as are (ii) Players aged 35 or older as of June 30 prior to the League Year in which the SPC is to be effective, who have signed a one-year SPC for that League Year. Now this I can get behind. If you are still playing hockey after 35 and standing upright with most of your teeth and your mental faculties in tact, you deserve a little something extra.

It’s the hockey version of a CEO’s golden parachute: In Section A, deferred bonuses are defined as follows: “Deferred Bonuses” means any Bonuses that are earned during the term of an SPC during which the services attributable to those Bonuses are performed, but are not paid until after the expiration of the SPC. By definition, Deferred Bonuses that are earned during the term of an SPC may not be paid until after the expiration of such SPC. For purposes of calculating a Club’s Upper Limit and Lower Limit, as well as the Players’ Share, Deferred Bonuses shall be counted as Bonuses in the League Year in which the Player performs the services for which they are earned, at their present value at 1-year LIBOR plus one and one-quarter percent of the Deferred Bonuses. Bonuses denominatead as “Deferred” but payable within the term of the SPC shall not be permitted. So, this allows the NHL to hold money hostage to get players to perform during the League Year, knowing they may lose them to free agency at the end of the season? Or perhaps it permits teams to do some creative math to meet their upper and lower limit? Either way….Crafty. Very Crafty.

At least we know the NHL’s future will be using theirs wisely: When Sven Bartschi was asked in several different interviews what he’d do with the money from his shiny new contract with the Calgary Flames, he told the press he didn’t know, but that he’d give some of it back to his family who had done so much for him. Fellow Swiss countryman and Portland Winterhawks teammate Nino Niederreiter Tweeted recently at how excited he was that he could buy his mom an expensive purse. It’s like I’ve said many times before; if your NHL team has chosen from the Winterhawks roster, they have chosen well.

Clearly, I need to rethink my career track: I’ve never gotten a bonus for signing on the dotted line with an employer, showing up or doing my duties as assigned on the company’s roster. But what if I did? In today’s economy, beggars can’t be choosers, but if we lived in an alternate universe where NHL-esque bonuses were a reality for everyday working citizens, I think it would go something like this:

Signing: Automatically added to the first paycheck of a new employee to reimburse (with interest) the costs of driving back and forth to numerous interviews, parking, dry cleaning their nicest suits, and the overall mental anguish of waiting while the company took is time to make up its mind. If the employee brings new clients or other business with them, an additional five percent is tacked onto this amount.

Reporting: Takes the form of a Starbucks gift card given to employees whose “office” is really an oversized cubicle that they have tried to make their own by decorating it with postcards and bobbleheads and photos and such. The gift card will be at least $50 and will be given out once per month, as an unspoken apology/quasi-compensation for cramming people into an oversized cubbyhole for the purpose of underpaying and overworking them. If used wisely, said employees will never have to pay for their own Starbucks coffee drinks again.

Roster: A small bonus equal to one percent of the employee’s salary paid at the end of each month to those employees who excel at being a “team player,” which is code for acting against your own desires and instincts and watching while your best ideas get stolen by someone who went to a fancier school than you.

Performance: Not permitted for executives and other CEOs, who already make more money than they deserve. Instead, performance bonuses are granted to anyone who does not have a corner office, a reserved parking space in the company parking lot or a fancy title. Instead, performance bonuses will be granted only to those employees who ride mass transit at least an hour each way to work everyday, have so much work piled on them they never get it all done and who always volunteer for the community or volunteer events at their company on top of their workloads. These employees will receive a quarterly payout commensurate with their outstanding work, loyalty and dedication.

Next up, back to reality: Last I heard, the Portland Winterhawks were scheduled to open training camp on August 25. Unless that changes, that means come Monday it’s only 30 shopping days until I can don a press pass, hit the rink and watch some choice prospects play hockey. I will definitely post a few more off-season kibbles in before then. But come August, it’s all WHL/Winterhawks pre-training camp, pre-season hype-o-rama, all the time. Well, ok, most of the time. But you get the idea.

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About Above the Glass

Welcome to Above the Glass, a definitive anti-expert’s guide to hockey. I started blogging in 2009 as part of an effort to learn all 87 rules in the NHL Rulebook in 107 days before the 2010 Olympics, 30 years after I discovered the sport. You can peruse the archival results here. Growing up in Arizona, I didn’t even know hockey existed until February 22, 1980, when the USA played Russia in the Olympics. And just like that, the game of the century changed my life. I still don’t quite understand the icing rule or which faceoff circle goes with what offense, but I do know that every aspect of hockey has something to teach us about life. That’s what you’ll find here, along with my unadulterated passion for the game.

I live in Portland, Oregon, home of the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks. I invite anyone who wants to know more about hockey in the Rose City to visit here, where I blog exclusively about the Winterhawks. I’ll post an occasional musing about the Hawks, the WHL and junior hockey here as well.

Follow me on Twitter: @AbovetheGlass

Email: samantha@kuklaskorner.com