Don't shed tears for locked out Jets
Ondrej Pavelec salary: $3,250,000. Per game: $39,634 (BRIAN DONOGH/WINNIPEG SUN/QMI AGENCY)
Let's preface this column by saying few readers are likely to feel any sympathy whatsoever for the poor millionaires who are not going to collect paycheques in the foreseeable future.
The same fans who are spending their life savings on season tickets and brand new Jets gear surely won't feel sorry for hockey players who are locked out because uncontrollable owners think they are getting paid too much.
Those fans no doubt wish the owners and players would respect them more and come to an agreement for their sake, considering they generate the revenue the two sides are bickering over.
Instead they are faced with yet another work stoppage and this time it has much more significance in Winnipeg than it did last time.
Back in 2004-05, when the NHL lost an entire season to a lockout, the Jets were caught somewhere between a memory and a pipe dream.
But now they're back and the same heroes who fans revered so feverishly last season are now going to be partly responsible for a lack of hockey because they simply can't live with getting about half the money coming into the league. Sounds ridiculous in those terms, but that's what it comes down to.
So those players will skate on their own and look for other jobs overseas when the lockout becomes official and training camps are put on hold. Not that it matters much to them at this point. Training camp generally sucks for players and they don't get paid anyway until the real games begin.
"The real deadline is when you stop getting paid ... that's the real test," Jets centre Olli Jokinen said Friday.
Which brings us to the point of this little rant.
It's very hard for fans to relate to the players in this situation because most of them will never earn the kind of money in a lifetime that some of these guys earn in a year.
On the flip side, a great portion of the people who attend hockey games make less in a year than what some Jets make in a single day.
If this lockout extends into the regular season, some members of the Jets are going to lose upwards of $50,000 per game.
Like poor Evander Kane. The young left-winger just signed a six-year deal worth $31.5 million on Saturday. But the new highest-paid Jet won’t get to see a cent of his $64,024 per game until this little squabble comes to a resolution.
I know, boo hoo.
How will he and his teammates feed their families? Or pay their bar tabs?
"It's just frustrating that the salaries and the cutbacks would be that much from the players when overall, the league is making money," Jets centre Bryan Little explained.
Last season, the players took home 57% of the league's revenues, which certainly seems high considering owners still have to pay other employees, travel expenses and, most importantly — for Gary Bettman at least — massage therapists.
The players are going to have to come down on that number. It's just a matter of how far. When the two sides agree on the appropriate amount, they'll come back, tell the fans how great they are and start reaching into their wallets again.
Of course, it sounds like the players are prepared for a long fight. They have a war chest to make sure nobody needs to apply for food stamps and it sounds like they have resolve while standing behind one of the toughest negotiators in the business in union boss Donald Fehr.
So there's a pretty good chance some regular season games will be cancelled and some outrageous paycheques will be missed.
Amazingly, since he only had 35 points last season, centre Nik Antropov stands to lose the second-most money per game missed among the Jets.
Antropov's actual salary (not to be confused with his cap hit) is $4,750,000 this season. That means he'll lose $57,926 for every game cancelled by a lockout. Jokinen, captain Andrew Ladd and defencemen Toby Enstrom and Dustin Byfuglien will all lose more than $50,000 per game.
That the enigmatic Antropov is one of the highest paid players on the team this season should be enough to make fans gag. That he makes a pretty decent year's wage for most regular folks in one game might bring on a full scale vomit-fest.
Of course, it was an owner who signed off on Antropov's hefty, untradeable contract. Atlanta Thrashers GM Don Waddell drew it up.
Other owners signed off on a 14-year contract for Shea Weber and matching 13-year deals for Zach Parise and Ryan Suter this off-season, all while they were crying poverty and trying to get the players to give up a bigger share of the revenue pie.
The Jets owners signed Kane to a rich deal about half an hour before they locked the players out because they make too much money. Get your head around that one.
In this circus disguised as a labour negotiation, nobody is going to feel sorry for any of these clowns.
Without question it's the fans who lose the most in this labour war.
But just in case you want to get out the world’s smallest violin and play it for your beloved Jets, you can check out just how much each player stands to lose for each cancelled game in the accompanying chart.
Try to hold your breakfast.
Player Salary Salary per game
Evander Kane $5,250,000 $64,024
Nik Antropov $4,750,000 $57,926
Olli Jokinen $4,500,000 $54,878
Andrew Ladd $4,500,000 $54,878
Tobias Enstrom $4,500,000 $54,878
Dustin Byfuglien $4,250,000 $51,829
Ondrej Pavelec $3,250,000 $39,634
Bryan Little $3,000,000 $36,585
Zach Bogosian $3,000,000 $36,585
Ron Hainsey $3,000,000 $36,585
Blake Wheeler $2,650,000 $32,317
Alex Ponikarovsky $1,800,000 $21,951
Mark Stuart $1,700,000 $20,731
Jim Slater $1,600,000 $19,512
Kyle Wellwood $1,600,000 $19,512
Antii Miettinen $1,500,000 $18,292
Grant Clitsome $1,400,000 $17,073
Alex Burmistrov $900,000 $10,975
Chris Thorburn $800,000 $10,365
Al Montoya $601,000 $7,329