First of all, I'd like to say thanks to all the people that have given me feedback about my first couple of posts on this blog. All comments and feedback are appreciated, pro and con. However, one comment captured my attention, and is worthy of a response. One person commented:
"People who state our hard earned money to pay for tickets, probably have never played hockey at a high enough of a level to understand the hard work that goes into playing a game. The players are the best of the best there union is there to protect them to the best of there (sic) ability them just the same as the CAW. Just because its a bigger scale doesn't mean a union works differently."
Well, it's self evident that a union in one industry has essentially identical functions in another; to represent it's members in contract related matters. It's also self evident that the key difference between the NHLPA and the CAW is a matter of scale. Thank you for pointing out the patently obvious. The point of my disagreement with Mr. Fehr's comparison is that the vast gulf of a difference in scale makes the comparison laughable to the point of insult. I think I understand the roles of the two unions in question. As for my understanding of how hard an NHL player works, we'll revisit that topic in a couple of paragraphs. It's the best of the best issue that I'll touch upon first.
It's fascinating to observe as athlete's salaries have climbed, how the justification has been this idea of their being the "best of the best". Now, I don't begrudge them making good money, but for fun, let's compare the "best of the best" in other professions to some current NHL player's salaries.
According to the National Salary Data Base (Canada), the highest paid:
- Police Officer in Canada makes $96,000, or about 10% of MIN Clayton Stoner's salary
- Electrical Engineer in Canada makes $96,355 about 10% of WAS Joey Crabb's salary
- Corporate (in house) Lawyer in Canada makes $123,650 about 10% of PHX Boyd Gordon's salary
- Full Professor in Canada makes $157,640, about 10% of BOS Gregory Campbell's salary
- Oncologist in Canada makes $239,000, about 10% of STL Patrik Berglund's salary.
- Prime Minister of Canada makes $317,574, about 10% of OTT Chris Phillips salary.
- And of course the President of the USA makes $569,000, including his expense accounts, about 10% of WAS Mike Green's salary.
The point of this is simple. The best, or at least the highest paid, members of these professions get 1/10th the salary of some pretty average NHL players. NHL players do not, respectively, strap a gun on before each shift, knowing they may be forced into the position of taking a life to save their own, design a computer, sift through the legality of their company's operations, teach a course load while doing publishable research, try to cure cancer, or run the Government of Canada or the United States, all after varying lengths of post-secondary education. I'd venture a guess that all of these people work every bit as hard as an NHL player.
As for my personal understanding of how hard an NHL player works, truly, it has nothing to do with what level of hockey one has played. But, since you brought it up, I did play on a line during summer hockey one year with 2 guys that had fairly lengthy NHL careers. One went on to become a head coach in the NHL. (Trust me, I was definitely the weak link on the line.) I've known players in the NHL since I was in high school. I even went to a Stanley Cup party at my next door neighbor's house. No, I don't mean beer and nachos while watching the playoffs on TV. I mean the day he brought the Stanley Cup home for his day with it as Champion. So, I think my understanding of an NHL player's work load is fairly thorough. I also have 2 degrees, so I know a bit about education and hard work myself.
Look, I love hockey as much as the next guy, or I wouldn't be blogging on this site. I really believe the players deserve a fair cut of the money the NHL generates. But when these people make statements comparing their lot in life with "normal" people, it' truly laughable, and really demonstrates how out of touch they are, and how they fail to see how truly fortunate they are.