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Are European/russian Player's In The Nhl For $$ Or For The Game?


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To the mods... Wasn't sure where to post this topic, sorry in advance if it has to be moved.

This topic of conversation came up while chatting with a friend about the old-timers.

Back in the day of the Rocket and Worsley, the players played hockey for the love of the game. They obviously didn't play for money since most retired and died broke. The Rocket who was undoubtably one of the best of his time, according to a re-run of Don Cherry's Grapevine, The Rocket made (approx) made $25,000 a year. Despite being many decades ago it still does not translate to the multi-million contracts of today's top stars.

My question is, would we have as many Russians/European players in the league if we weren't offering such inflated contracts?

There are some players who obviously play for the love of the game, despite coming from oversea's, ie: Alfredson and our very own Koivu.

I just feel that a lot want to live the American dream. Instead of coming to North America to play in the NHL (amongst some of the best players in the wrold), they come for the money and a shot at the American dream. I can't blsme them for wanting to leave countries like Russia, I'm just wondering what their true motive is.

I wonder what would happen if the league dropped the cap by 1/2 next season due to an economic crisis. It would be interesting to see how many would stay and how many would leave for greener pastures. This doesn't just apply to the players coming from Europe/Russia, I find many Canadian and US player's are just as guilty of going after the American dream. If North American players suddenly found their paycheck cut in half, I wonder how many would follow the cash flow to the KHL.

I started to think about this last year during the post-season. It seemed that a lot of our European players had their eyes on the world cup instead of the Stanley Cup play-offs they were competing in. How many were gone within days of the Habs being eliminated?

I don't think that giving the money to the owners (like it was in the day of the Rocket) is the solution. I do strongly feel that inflated contracts has in a way ruined hockey and made the players of today soft. Now players are choosing to turn down the ALL-STAR game, which to me is a lil disgusting. If it weren't for the fans, these players wouldn't have their multi-million dollar houses and fancy cars. It's one weekend out of the season to pay back the fans for their support.

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My question is, would we have as many Russians/European players in the league if we weren't offering such inflated contracts?

My "gut feeling" answer would be no.............there wouldn't be as many Russian/European players in the league. I don't hold that against them either. Afterall they are not only trying to make a better living for themselves but also their families living in the home country. It seems other sports (basketball, MLB, NASCAR) have evolved the same way IMO. Personally I admire the risk they (foreign athletes) take.........leaving their families behind, not knowing the language, culture, customs, etc. especially given the age of some of these guys when they get to the NHL or other sport. I have to believe the language barrier could lead to a lonely life until they find their way. The rewards of overcoming those obstacles can be monumental to say the least. Good for them! I do appreciate these athletes more if they express a sincere interest in the history of the sport (league) they are participating in as a professional.

I guess it truly is a global economy.

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I think that its a very slippery slope to try to stereotype one group of ethnic background vs another, but I'll play devil's advocate anyway.

Back in the day of the Rocket and Worsley, the players played hockey for the love of the game. They obviously didn't play for money since most retired and died broke. The Rocket who was undoubtably one of the best of his time, according to a re-run of Don Cherry's Grapevine, The Rocket made (approx) made $25,000 a year. Despite being many decades ago it still does not translate to the multi-million contracts of today's top stars.

I think your statement/assumption is a bit skewed. There's no question players werent paid even close to the way they are now - but - some were still paid handsomely. $25,000 a year in the 1950s was a TON of money. My dad was the senior architect at his firm in london & made about half of that. So I think its tough to say people only played "for the love of the game" - even back then, hockey players were paid well - especially in comparison to other jobs with no education required.

My question is, would we have as many Russians/European players in the league if we weren't offering such inflated contracts?

Probably not. But then how many north americans would be playing europe if they werent making big money? Remember that if you leave you country to play somewhere where you dont speak the language (or dont speak it particularly well), dont have family, dont have friends...especially if you do so as a youngster - there has to be some sort of compensation. Saying "well its the best league in the world" is not enough imho. Money of course plays a factor - and why wouldnt it? It doesnt matter if you're a hockey player, plumber of fireman, if you are asked to move halfway across the world, there had better be some incentive.

I just feel that a lot want to live the American dream. Instead of coming to North America to play in the NHL (amongst some of the best players in the wrold), they come for the money and a shot at the American dream. I can't blsme them for wanting to leave countries like Russia, I'm just wondering what their true motive is.

Id say this is a falicy. Much of europe is in better shape fianacially than america - and they could get handsome (usually better) contracts there if they wanted to. I think you're buying into american propaganda that all the world wants to live there. I have family in countries all over europe & none particularly want to move to north america.

I don't think that giving the money to the owners (like it was in the day of the Rocket) is the solution. I do strongly feel that inflated contracts has in a way ruined hockey and made the players of today soft. Now players are choosing to turn down the ALL-STAR game, which to me is a lil disgusting. If it weren't for the fans, these players wouldn't have their multi-million dollar houses and fancy cars. It's one weekend out of the season to pay back the fans for their support.

Its a tough one. the real answer is to cut the cost of tickets. The owners are owed money because they put up huge cash to purchase a business - why would they do that if it didnt make money? the players are owed money because they are the people putting the people in the seats. I dont think cutting the cap would have any affect - other than probably having more europeans deciding to stay in europe. I think GMs will still overspend & the ridiculous ticket prices of today will continue to rise.

My 2c

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