blank'/> THE PUCK REPORT: NHL Minimum Wage & Maximum Wage By Year

Thursday, June 22, 2017

NHL Minimum Wage & Maximum Wage By Year

In July of 2005, the NHL and NHLPA finalized the 2005 CBA ending a 310 day lockout that resulted in the loss of a season. The core feature of the accord was the introduction a salary cap, setting team spending limits based on league revenue and tying player salaries to such limits.

The maximum player salary was capped at 20% of the team salary cap. Meanwhile, the minimum player salary jumped 257% from $180,000 to $450,000 with fixed bumps in future years.  The chart below shows NHL minimum and maximum player salaries by year since 2005.

Year              Salary Cap     NHL Minimum     NHL Maximum      
2005-2006
$39.0m     
$450,000      
$7.8m     
2006-2007
$44.0m     
$450,000      
$8.8m     
2007-2008
$50.3m     
$475,000      
$10.06m     
2008-2009
$56.7m     
$475,000      
$11.34m     
2009-2010
$56.8m     
$500,000      
$11.36m     
2010-2011
$59.4m     
$500,000      
$11.88m     
2011-2012
$64.3m     
$525,000      
$12.86m     
2012-2013
$70.2m     
$525,000      
$14.04m     
2013-2014
$64.3m     
$550,000      
$12.86m     
2014-2015
$69.0m     
$550,000      
$13.8m     
2015-2016
$71.4m     
$575,000      
$14.3m     
2016-2017
$73.0m     
$575,000      
$14.6m     
2017-2018
$75.0m     
$650,000      
$15.0m     

The team salary cap has increased 92% since 2005 (an average of 7% per year), providing for maximum player salary to rise by the same margin. Minimum wage, on the other hand, has increased only 44% during that span (an average of 3.4% per year), half of their top earner counterparts.  Thus, while maximum salary has been tied to the spectacular increase in team salary cap, minimum salary has not. 

The chart below shows what minimum salary would be as a percentage of team salary cap, as opposed to the negotiated rate schedule.

Year                NHL Minimum    % of Cap     1.15% of Cap      
2005-2006
$450,000     
1.15%      
$450,000     
2006-2007
$450,000     
1.02%      
$506,000     
2007-2008
$475,000     
.944%      
$578,000     
2008-2009
$475,000     
.837%      
$652,000     
2009-2010
$500,000     
.880%      
$653,000     
2010-2011
$500,000     
.841%      
$683,000     
2011-2012
$525,000     
.816%      
$739,000     
2012-2013
$525,000     
.747%      
$807,000     
2013-2014
$550,000     
.816%      
$739,000     
2014-2015
$550,000     
.797%      
$793,000     
2015-2016
$575,000     
.805%      
$821,100     
2016-2017
$575,000     
.787%      
$829,500     
2017-2018
$650,000     
.867%      
$862,500     

If minimum wage had been tied to 1.15% of the team salary cap instead of anchoring it to a fixed dollar rate schedule, NHL minimum earners would have received an extra $100,000 in 2007-2008, $200,000 more in 2011-2012, and almost $300,000 more in 2012-2013. In fact, in the eleven years since the 2005 wage hike, tying it to such a percentage would have yielded an extra $2.327m for such skaters during that span, equaling an additional $193,000 each year on average.

The NHL's minimum wage is scheduled to increase in the coming years reaching $650,000 in 2017-2018, $700,000 in 2019-2020, and $750,000 in 2021-2022. The maximum player salary shall remain at 20% of team salary cap during this span.  

When the current CBA expires after the 2021-2022 season, perhaps the NHLPA should vie to tie minimum wage to a percentage of the team salary cap (with a floor of a 5% bump on prior year pay) so players at both ends of the hockey spectrum can share in increased NHL revenues. Equity for all skaters, regardless of role and talent.

* See also NHL Highest Paid Players By Year.
* See also NHL Highest Player Salary & Cap Hit By Position.
* See also Rethinking NHL Player Salary Structure.

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