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What Was Willie Mitchell Thinking?

from Tony Gallagher of the Vancouver Province,

...it seems he’s had another blow to the head, what with the quote he gave our Jim Jamieson on Thursday upon the news of the ultimatum the league gave the Players Association on the Ilya Kovalchuk and Roberto Luongo contracts now thankfully settled.

Quoth Mitchell: “We have a big gap in our union where you have the star player and the blue-collar player. All those top-end guys are getting paid more and more and the bottom-end guys are getting less and less. Maybe if we come to something more level, it might help the rest of our union.”

Now we know what he was driving at but the question is, when did Mitchell become a socialist and when did he start quaffing the Bettman Kool-Aid? No wonder the owners are in such great shape if this is the quality of understanding of the CBA at the player-rep level.

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Filed in: NHL Teams, Los Angeles Kings, NHLPA, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: willie+mitchell

Comments

edillac's avatar

he should definetly make less than 3.5 mill$,no doubt about it

Posted by edillac from isolation on 09/06/10 at 10:25 AM ET

George Malik's avatar

I actually agree with Tony Gallagher.  That’s…not exactly an attitude that professional athletes would normally promote.  The UAW, maybe, but not the NHLPA.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 09/06/10 at 10:36 AM ET

Paul From Cali's avatar

When Kovalchuk can force the NHL into accepting a contract where he’s getting paid $100M dollars and he doesn’t have to budge a penny, that lends credence to Mitchell’s complaint.  The “low end” guys get paid peanuts if they can find a job at all.  The “high end” guys get paid whatever the want.  Something’s broken.

Posted by Paul From Cali on 09/06/10 at 11:06 AM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

The “low end” guys get paid peanuts because they’re worth less to a team.  There are only a handful of guys who can do what Kovalchuk can with the puck.  Fourth-liners are a dime a dozen.  I don’t think league minimum is too low for them, considering the huge differences in pay between NHL league minimum and what most guys get paid in the minors.  Besides, it’s not like these salaries are going down.  There are two reasons to get paid low dollar figures in the NHL, 1. Because you’re a very talented player who hasn’t show he’s earned a big payday yet or 2. Because you’re a low-end guy.

It’s funny that Willie Mitchell is the one bringing up this complaint, considering he’s overpaid at $3.5M

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 09/06/10 at 11:30 AM ET

Avatar

tony gallagher is an idiot, always has been always will be.  mitchell’s got a point, the point of a union is to ensure that players don’t get exploited.  and while, on the one hand, i don’t have a lot of sympathy for someone making 500k$ a year, the league minimum, there is something fundamentally wrong when kovalchuk gets 8$ million a year.  the entire salary system is screwed.  so what, the guys on the 4th line are supposed to just be happy to be there?  clearly superstars aren’t the only things that matter.  if it was, then the rangers would’ve won several cups, and the capitals wouldn’t flame out in the playoffs, and the penguins would win every year. 

it’s not that simple, jj.

Posted by Ransacker on 09/06/10 at 01:35 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

it’s not that simple, jj.

Posted by Ransacker on 09/06/10 at 12:35 PM ET

No, it’s not that simple.  So don’t try to paint it as a league full of $8M guys and league-minimum guys.  What’s wrong with Crosby getting $8.7M while Drew Miller’s salary is $600k regardless of whether he’s playing every night (which he probably won’t)?

the guys on the 4th line are supposed to just be happy to be there?

Yes and no.  If they are just happy to be there, then they’re damn well worth the low pay they get.  If they’re not happy to be there, then they need to play better and earn a raise with their next contract.

Players’ salaries fall into bands based on their skill level.  It’s fantastic that hockey has a system where players get paid based on what they’ve done rather than their potential (see NFL/NBA for more on that).  Top-notch guys get paid a ton like they should, middling talent gets paid middling dollars like they should and the lower-talent guys get paid the least.  Superstars aren’t the only guys that matter, but they’re the ones that matter most.  I look up and down the roster and pay scales for each of the last four cup-winning squads and I don’t see a lot of places where guys are horribly under or overpaid, whether those are the top-line guys or the third-line pluggers.

If you do still see a problem, what’s the solution to this broken system?

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 09/06/10 at 02:06 PM ET

redxblack's avatar

Kovalchuk makes roughly what Bettman makes per year. Barf.

Posted by redxblack from Akron Ohio on 09/06/10 at 03:27 PM ET

Hippy Dave's avatar

I think there needs to be some wording in the next CBA that declares a maximum salary a player can receive (if there isn’t already one) and have a carefully worded calculation based on the overall cap that determines how fast this number rises, that would help to prevent the runaway salaries like we’re seeing.

Posted by Hippy Dave from Portland by way of Detroit on 09/06/10 at 05:08 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

I think there needs to be some wording in the next CBA that declares a maximum salary a player can receive (if there isn’t already one) and have a carefully worded calculation based on the overall cap that determines how fast this number rises, that would help to prevent the runaway salaries like we’re seeing.

This is from NHL.com’s FAQ page on the CBA:

No player may be eligible to contract for or receive in excess of 20% of the Club’s upper limit in total annual compensation (NHL salary plus signing, roster, reporting and all performance bonuses).

Based on this year’s salary cap, no player may be signed to a contract that would pay him more than $11.88 Million in any of the contract years.

Including this contract year, no player has ever been given max salary allowable under this part of the CBA.  There is one year in the new Kovalchuk contract that pays him $11.8 million, but that’s not until 2016-17 (where the cap should be higher) and is $80,000 below the 20% threshold within the rules anyway.

If my understanding is correct, if the cap goes down to a level where that $11.8M salary in 2016-17 is more than 20% of the club’s upper limit, the pay amount (and cap hit) will be adjusted downward to make it compliant, just as how James Mirtle and Capgeek explained to me that a contract signed for future years at league minimum would be adjusted upward if the league minimum rises above the pay level of the contract.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 09/06/10 at 05:38 PM ET

Lindas1st's avatar

I get the felling some players think they should be making similar salaries as the other big 3 sports.

J.J.‘s becoming- must read.

Posted by Lindas1st from New England on 09/06/10 at 06:44 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

Hockey’s a competitive sport and the concept that players should earn something other than what their play merits is…weird.  How you play = how much you’re paid.

And, as JJ says, if the cap goes down, that 20% is a fixed percentage, not a fixed amount.  The league minimum’s the fixed salary, and players who earn the league minimum are guaranteed 10% raises when their contracts expire as a rule.  I believe that’s the rule up to something like $800,000 now…you have to submit a qualifying offer to a player that’s 10% higher than his current paycheck if he makes anything around the league minimum.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 09/07/10 at 12:01 AM ET

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

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