Follow the Money—Sports

Why Guys Are Getting Paid Big

Hockey Salaries—High for Hockey, Low for Other Sports


These guys technically don't get paid a lot...

These guys technically don't get paid a lot...

Not everybody in America is down with hockey. That’s fine. Nobody’s judging. 


The 2000s have been tumultuous for the National Hockey League. In eight years, the sport has seemingly decreased in popularity, endured a lockout that canceled a full season, and then witnessed a rebirth that a lot of people failed to notice.

No matter your theories on whether professional hockey is entertaining or not, there is an odd trend at work in the financial area of NHL life. Compared to other professional sports, the NHL’s current salary cap of $56.7 million is way low. Compared to a lot of other professional athletes, hockey players’ salaries are way low. Yet, it seems that the NHL is overspending again. It’s like some sort of a bizarro world.

$56.7 million is a number that needs to be put into perspective to truly get the idea of how tiny a number it is. Perpetual doormat Major League Baseball teams like the Kansas City Royals have a larger payroll than the biggest players in the NHL do. While Detroit is spending $55 million this year to field the best team in the NHL this season, bottom feeders like the Charlotte Bobcats and the Washington Nationals are spending near or over that amount to be two of the worst teams in their respective sports. It’s an incredible trend.

Here’s a link to another blog that does a great job of giving insight into how NHL salary caps and payrolls have changed over the years. Notice that the author thinks NHL player salaries are skyrocketing. I can’t say I agree with this logic, seeing as how the current “skyrocketing” salary cap isn’t even close to what a lot of teams pay for a worse record.

For comparison’s sake, I have to include some other money guidelines in the other major sports.

NBA—The highest a team’s salary could go under the 2008-09 cap is $71.150 million. that is nearly $20 million more than the NHL. Put it into the perspective of full contracts, and LeBron James will make more over the duration of his current contract than some entire NHL teams.

NFL—The 2008 salary cap for teams is a staggering $116 million. That is by far the highest of the professional sports (that have salary caps).

MLB—Baseball doesn’t have a cap, which is why only a handful of teams are in the running for the top free agents every winter. Bottom line, the top pro baseball players are dwarfing NHL team salaries. Just compare Alex Rodriguez’ current deal to that of the top NHL team.

In conclusion,  while it may seem like NHL salaries are getting out of control, the reality is that they’re still, by leaps and bounds, the lowest of the four major professional sports.


December 9, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

NBA Big Men Are Getting Richer

It’s not quite certain when exactly it started. Could it be Raef LaFrentz? What about Yao Ming? Maybe it really started with Shaquille O’Neal’s $60+million contract with the Los Angeles Lakers back in 1995? 

When it comes down to it, the current precedent in the NBA is to pay your power forwards a pile of money, and pay your centers even more. While it’s true that there are currently a number of great power forwards in the league (Kevin Garnett, Chris Bosh, Carlos Boozer, Amare Stoudemire, etc.) who are earning a lot, and, for their talent, deservedly so, the more disturbing part of the current NBA is how much overrated centers are currently earning.

When I say that certain centers in the league are overrated, I’m going solely off of the stat sheet. There’s no stat for ‘number of picks set’ or ‘genuinely nice guy,’ but there are plenty for points, rebounds and blocks, which are the hallmarks of any good big man, especially a center. An overrated center to me is someone who doesn’t contribute solidly in at least one (more likely two) of those categories on a regular basis. If a guy who starts every night in the post averages 5.5 points and 4.5 rebounds, but is currently on a contract of $35 million over four years, I’d say that guy’s an overpaid, overrated center. The way the league has changed since 2000, stats such as those I just listed have been matched with huge dollar amounts, and with greater frequency.

Let’s take a look at some of the more extreme contracts out there to help illustrate the point that center contracts are ballooning despite low in-game production……….

1.) Erick Dampier (Dallas)—Dampier is one of my favorite examples for this topic because he embodies low production with a large pay check. In August of 2004, he signed with the Mavericks for seven years and $73 million. He received the high bid because in his last season with Golden State in 2003-04, he averaged highly productive 12 points, 11 rebounds and nearly 2 blocks per game. Since ’04, his numbers have never reached that peak. In fact, in four seasons in Dallas, he’s never averaged more than 9.2 points and 8.5 rebounds. Last season, he finished with 6 points and 7 boards a game.    

2.) Desagana Diop (Dallas)—Diop is another nice example here because his big contract came just a couple months ago. Mavericks fans should be a bit troubled, though, because this is the second center the team has signed that is making way more than his production should allow. In July, Diop signed for five years and $32.39 million. This contract, while not nearly as large as his teammate Dampier’s, is troubling because Diop has never averaged more than 3 points and 5 rebounds a game in his entire seven-year career.    

3.) Ben Wallace (Cleveland)—Let me start out by saying that there was once a time when Ben Wallace was a bargain at any price. He used to be a perennial rebound machine and Defensive Player of the Year. But that was during his time in Detroit. In 2006, he became an unrestricted free agent and was snatched up by the Chicago Bulls for $52 million over four years. He also turned 32 in the same year, so, as players who get past their peak age start to do, his skills declined. He went from a prolific rebounder and defensive anchor to being just average. In 2006-07, he averaged a semi-respectable 6.4 points and 10.7 rebounds, but last season, his numbers took another dive, this time to 4.2 points and 7.4 rebounds. For a guy who averaged better than two blocks a game for most of his career, in the last two he hasn’t averaged more than one. The Bulls became fed up with his low production and general attitude, so they traded him to the Cavaliers at last season’s trading deadline. At 34 years old, Wallace is suddenly not the force to be reckoned with he was just three years ago.    

4.) Raef LaFrentz (Portland)—LaFrentz’ contract, which he inked with none other than the Mavericks in July of 2002, has paid him $70 million over the last seven years. This may be the mother of all outrageous center contracts, because LaFrentz has been one of the least productive, oft-injured players in the NBA over the last five years. Only three times in his 10-year career has he played in 80 games. And since signing his albatross contract with Dallas, he’s been traded twice—first to Boston and then to Portland. Last season in Portland, he played in only 38 games and averaged 1.6 points, 1.8 rebounds and half of a block.    

5.) Jerome James (New York)—

September 16, 2008 Posted by | NBA, Uncategorized | , | 3 Comments