SBD/Issue 130/Leagues & Governing Bodies

NHLPA Admonishes Canucks C Kesler Over Contract Comments

Kesler Admonished For Suggesting
Players Take Below-Market Contracts
Canucks C Ryan Kesler has been admonished by the NHLPA for suggesting that he and his teammates should take "below-market value contracts to be part of a winning team," according to Elliott Pap of the VANCOUVER SUN. NHLPA Dir of Player Affairs Glenn Healy spoke with Kesler after he made the comments last week, and NHLPA Exec Dir Paul Kelly said Healy "just wanted Ryan to understand that sometimes we make public comments that might get misinterpreted -- to the extent he was encouraging other players to take pay cuts." Kelly: "That's not a message that he wants to present. ... We obviously want our players to obtain whatever they can get and whatever the market will bear. That being said, the desire on the part of some players to stay in communities they're playing in, whether you call it a hometown discount or taking a little bit less, I respect that" (VANCOUVER SUN, 3/25).

MAJOR ISSUES: Kelly said that the one thing that has "galvanized the players' thinking recently" regarding a new CBA is the "massive escrow payments that are murdering their paycheques." Kelly: "We're finding every time we meet with the players there is more and more interest in the issues facing us and the league. They want to know more and more, and the thing that's really got their notice is the high deductions from their cheques this season." Meanwhile, in Vancouver, Tony Gallagher reports ESPN "wants hockey back big on that channel, with a view to putting some games on ESPN2 and a few on the mothership, including playoffs and the Winter Classic," though "how soon this comes about remains to be seen." Kelly said in terms of national media revenues per season, the NFL is at $3.7B, MLB at $1.37B, the NBA at $930M and the NHL -- with RDS, CBC, NBC and Versus -- is at just $225M. Kelly: "There's a lot of reasons for that but it's the single biggest drawback we're facing in the league right now" (Vancouver PROVINCE, 3/25).

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