The QMJHL has long been know for being generous to its players. Rumors of under the table money and cash payouts have been around for years. Those rumors are sure to pick up once again.
In an effort to “assist small market team budgets” the QMJHL is reducing its over age player salary from $550.00 per week to the OHL and WHL standard of $150.00 a week.
That all sounds well and good, and it might actually happen in those “small market” team locations, but it certainly is not enough of a savings to make a club viable.
In the old system, teams paid out $46,200.o0 to their three overagers over the course of a seven month season. In 2014-15, teams will pay their three 20 year olds $12,600.00. Saving teams a total of $33,600.00 next year. Yes, in a league where budgets approaching four or five million dollars a year, $33,600.00 is going to save the day?
Needless to say, players are not too happy with this move.
A question of contract validity is now being raised by some. Contracts signed before this rule change were signed under the auspices of the over age player being paid $550.00 a week. Are those contracts now invalid?
One would have to think that this rule could simply not retroactively effect the players currently under contract who have paid their dues and earned that reward that was promised to them.
The salaries of other players remains unchanged: 16 and 17 year olds get $35, 18 year olds get $50 and 19 year olds get $60.
Many have called Major Junior Hockey the sports world version of indentured servitude. In a business where millions of dollars are spent and earned, this cost saving measure is clearly not one that is player friendly.
While most players stayed their over age year instead of turning pro at 20 years old, this may now cause players to leave early for the minor leagues. The $550.00 a week salary was larger than most entry level minor pro salaries. Take that away, and the only reason an over age player has to stay is to collect his education money.
TJHN will update this story as more information becomes available.