Erik Zvanitajs Why Does the CHL Need a Player Association?

“mutantur omnia nos et mutamur in illis”
All things change, and we change with them.

A players’ association is a dulled down, politically correct term for a labour union, but let us call it what it is and reveal the true nature of such an embodiment.

There are two main reasons that the Canadian Hockey League needs a union of players, 1> to ensure the protection and development of all the players that make it to the elite ranks of the CHL, and 2> to provide the means for players to enjoy a prosperous future regardless of their hockey endeavors.

A CHLPA would ensure that players were treated fairly regardless of their athletic ability; it would maintain and enforce a strict code of conduct that would allow players to have someone besides their agent or management looking out for their best interests. As it stands, the individual teams and hockey Canada stand to gain immensely by squeezing every drop of sweat from the talent pool that makes up the league, and not really concerning themselves for the rest of the players than don’t make the big leagues. 

I would imagine that the feedback from the current players has been overwhelming, and it truly is a remarkable place in time and history when a labor union can be ratified solely by social media and does not ask for a single penny in dues from its members. It really is a historical event happening little by little for the past few weeks.

In 2011 alone, Hockey Canada made a net profit of approx. $28 million dollars from CHL players in the World Junior’s.

What about the young men that sacrifice their hopes and dreams only to find themselves cut from the team only after playing a handful of games, standing at a bus stop with a one way ticket to the nearest major metropolis? Where is Hockey Canada developing them by allowing players to lose NCAA eligibility?

The reality is the CHL is a multi-million dollar industry that provides some of the NHL’s greatest talents. By playing in this league a player should be entitled to some sort of compensation beyond an NHL contract. 

As it currently operates, the CHL provides little for the average player that will never make the professional ranks of the NHL. Money set aside for educational purposes is distributed unevenly and expires within 18 months of leaving the league, even though a player may have paid into it for years. By taking a token salary, the CHL players are contaminated against any hope of receiving an NCAA scholarship. Hockey Canada labels the CHL as professional, in my opinion, so not to lose Canadian players south of the border, in their quest to continue to be the leading supplier of hockey players to the NHL. This basically comes down to bragging rights at the cost of 98% of players in the league who will not ever see the NHL. These players need to be protected. The player who makes it to the NHL is already guaranteed a life of prosperity, 2% will reach this plateau. 98% of the players will be need that education to make sure they’re not flipping burgers for a living.

When a junior hockey player, who misses a third of his school year because of travel, and who doesn’t make it to the NHL and his education package is only good for university. How does the average player, who misses a third of a school year in his most important years of high school able to maintain high enough grades to even be accepted to a university? I’m not saying it doesn’t happen, but the burden placed on these kids is extremely high.

A CHLPA would eliminate such unfair practices, and if a CHL player came in for 16 games and it didn’t work out, then they would find assistance in transitioning back into school, the workforce, or pursuit of a different hockey opportunity. I think this is very fair all things considered.

To ask of young men to carry the weight of a championship season on their backs, to leave family and friends and all other opportunities for that fleeting dream is beyond imagine, and when it doesn’t happen, what then?

Most times it is “thanks for coming out” as only the 2% go on to the professional ranks. Hockey Canada actually spends money on these players to reach the top, through media and tournaments, even though they are not the ones that need a break.

Two years into the CHL and it isn’t working out as the player had imagined. Now, that 19 year old man has to make a decision that will affect the rest of his life, and if it isn’t going into an accredited University program that the CHL deems “worthy” they may or may not receive aid.

A CHLPA would take that money that was “EARNED” by the player and set it aside for an indefinite time, until the player knew what they wanted to pursue as training or vocation. Tradesman, Community college, entrepreneurial efforts would all be funded with money that was set aside by the player, for their future. What player wouldn’t want to have this option? 

How can the CHL feel it is within their rights to absorb monies that an 18 year old kid has contributed because he didn’t know what he wanted to do for the rest of his life after a year and a half?

When you were 19 turning 20 did you have a clear path cut through the floor of your future?

Most of us don’t, and there should be no penalty, no forfeiture of accrued monies until such a time that they are used or no longer needed. 

Canada has a long, proud hockey tradition, and it is something that defines us as a nation. 

What would the rest of the world think if they knew we built the Juggernaut that is Canadian Hockey by forcing the talent pool into a shrinking market and took the top 2 % and rewarded them for their efforts? And, the other 98%? They have no idea what happens to them, nor do they see it as their responsibility to care.

A Players Association would do just that.



This may be the most poorly written article I have ever read. How much money will those running the PA make off of the backs of these kids? Will it be volunteer run? How much money did Hockey Canada contribute to grassroots hockey in this country and will the PA be willing to match it?

The umbrella of Hockey Canada is vast, and the monies from the CHL it receives are spread around the country from field hockey, to women's hockey, to promoting HUGE memorial cup tournaments and essentially the ongoing development of hockey at every level. AS it stands, the ONLY people making money off the backs of the CHL elite are Hockey canada, and the CHL team owners. The players are paid a pittance, a token salary that does not even meet the minimum wage and standards act, and forces them to give up any NCAA scholarship opportunites as they are deemed ineligible once they get $50 a week.

Obviously George Laraque isnt in it for the money, and sees real merit in such a union to protect the rights of the players currently being manipulated by greed on an obscene level.

You are missing the point Herman, it does not matter what Hockey Canada is doing for "hockey" at a national level, it matters what they are doing for the CHL players that for the most part are chewed up and spit out over a 2-3 year period. Not much really, they take the money and promote the top 2% of CHL athletes that are going to the NHL, but the rest are just on their own without the necessary life experience or financial backing to make a positive transition from hockey to regular life.

THE CHLPA twitter account and facebook page have been overwhelmed by player support that favor the union, and it is only a matter of time before it is ratified. The goal of the union is to ensure protection of the players, and as for what the CHLPA board of directors will be taking to run the union, you can bet your hockey skates it wont come even close to what the CHL and Hockey Canada take annually. The money is not coming from the kids, they are already being robbed, the money will come from The CHL owners and Hockey Canada who are taking way too much and not doing enough for the players as it stands. I hope this answers your questions and gives you some insight. Thanks for your comments and your time regarding my "most poorly written article you have ever read", but the fact is, you read it, and you paused to reflect and comment. Mission accomplished, you just proved that. Thanks again!

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