CHLPA Has Been Quiet But They Arent Going Away

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CHLPA Has Been Quiet But They Arent Going Away October 19, 2012 8:10 AM

The CHLPA has been questioned, mocked, laughed at and scrutinized since TJHN broke the story of its existance August 17th.

But the one thing the CHLPA hasn’t gone away and they are still trying to fight the good fight for player education packages in the CHL.

The CHLPA says it has support from players on every team in the Canadian Hockey League, even when they little more than a amateur website, a Twitter account and former NHL tough guy Georges Laraque leading the way. It is very much a cloak and dagger organization and very little appears to be getting done that would amount to real progress.

The CHLPA has managed to focus the spotlight on issues affecting the more than 1,300 players in the three leagues that make up the CHL that previously have been ignored. And that has led to questions being asked about whether players receive a big enough piece of the pie from the business of junior hockey.

Most of the questions centre around player benefits, particularly the education packages the CHLPA believes have too many restrictions and often force young men to choose between attending a post-secondary institution or trying to make a career out of professional hockey.

The CHLPA would like to see the leagues contribute more money to the fund for the education of graduating players. It believes owners put their own financial interests ahead of the players’ education, putting restrictions on the educational packages that often lead to them being voided.

Players must begin using their scholarships within 18 to 24 months of graduating from the CHL, depending on when it was writtem. Signing a professional contract valued at over $250,000.00 voids the education package completely. A player can go on to play a year or two of minor pro hockey but after two years the money is gone. Signing a pro contract in and of itself does not void the education package.

The Western Hockey League has in the last 19 years, spent $11 million on player education packages. Using that number it looks great on paper, but when you do the math and think about 22 teams over 19 years, that’s less than $30,000 a team, per year for a league that brought in close to $70 million in ticket sales last year.

Not much when you do the math is going toward education.

Education money, is the primary reason for the formation of the Canadian Hockey League Players Association.

But what exactly are education packages and how do they work? And why is this issue at the core of the CHLPA’s fight with the CHL?

Junior hockey players receive scholarship money, otherwise known as education packages, from the team they sign with after the draft. Many people have said that teams will pay for one year of a player’s university or college education after his CHL career ends for every year of service in the league. That is not completely true, packages and benefits are different from league to league. Although the CHL has most items in their contracts standardized, each league is just a little different from the other.

In the OHL, first-round draft picks receive full ride packages, including books, tuition, room and board. All other players only get tuition and books paid for. Only seven players on each team are allowed to receive full ride scholarships, this allows teams the ability to negotiate in the hope of high-end recruits from considering NCAA hockey over the OHL.

The WHL, on the other hand, has standardized education packages that cover a year of school (tuition and books) for every year in the league. First-round picks get the same as 10th-rounders. Simple and fair on its face.

Players in the QMJHL receive $5,000 a year. Players essentially get the same one-for-one deal as players in the other two leagues.

One thing remains constant though, players must begin using their scholarship money within 18 to 24 months. If you dont use it you loose it.

If the CHLPA does nothing more than keep the conversation moving toward improving the educations packages and the time frames in which they are used, then they will have made a positive impact on players lives.

One question remains for the CHLPA, who within the organization was close to a player who lost his education money that started this movement? Somewhere, someone feels as though they are owed something. What is the story behind that? We hear about players loosing the money they thought they would get, but not many tell the story and attach their names to it. That is the story the CHLPA needs to tell.

No one is naieve enough to believe the movement does not have a story. Tell the story CHLPA and put a face on it, maybe then you will come out of the shadows.

By Joseph Kolodziej

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