NHL players are well-compensated — not as well-compensated as baseball or basketball players, but that’s a discussion for another post. NHL players’ salaries start higher than most of us will ever achieve.
For some NHL players such as the Colorado Avalanche’s own Ryan O’Reilly, even $6.5 million is salary isn’t enough, though. According to The Hockey News, he’s submitted a request to the league arbiter for $6.75 million. The Avalanche have filed for the minimum they can offer in arbitration, $5.525 million, or 85 percent of what he made during the 2013-14 season. O’Reilly also, inexplicably, opted for a one-year award, meaning he and the Avalanche front offices will be back here next summer, barring a trade. The arbitration date is July 23.
Those numbers are weighing on a lot of people’s minds. Except O’Reilly’s agent, Pat Morris, and presumably others in O’Reilly’s camp, most people don’t agree he’s worth a pay raise:
- Yes, he won the Lady Byng Trophy. Did that really improve the Avalanche’s record beyond fewer penalty kills? (No offense to the Lady Byng.)
- Yes, he leads the league in takeaways. Again, while that helps score goals, it doesn’t directly translate.
- Yes, he leads the Avalanche in goals. He played the season on a line with the team’s leading points scorer, Matt Duchene. Jamie McGinn also had a career year playing on a line with Duchene, matching his personal best in goals.
There’s always the Jamie Benn argument that the Denver Post’s Adrian Dater put forth. Benn, the Dallas Stars’ captain, puts up similar numbers, getting 34 goals and 45 assists for 79 points last season. That’s compared to O’Reilly’s 28 goals, 36 assists and 64 points. Benn is set to earn $5.25 for the 2014-15 season.
Heck, you could put forth the John Tavares argument, a contemporary of O’Reilly’s, having gone first-overall the same year he was drafted. He had 24 goals, 42 assists and 66 points despite missing from the Olympic break on. While he’ll make $6 million, his cap hit is $5.5 million.
Do I need to point out that four-time 30-goal scorer Bobby Ryan, an Olympian, (neither of which O’Reilly has achieved) is going to make $5.5 million next season?Then there’s the Matt Duchene argument, the one that the Avalanche are making. Essentially, no one can make more than the player Joe Sakic calls “the face of our franchise” along with Nathan MacKinnon. That’s the way it works. Sure, everyone would love to be Jonathan Toews or Patrick Kane, signing eight-year, $84 million contract extensions. But then, every NHLer wants to be Toews and Kane with their two Stanley Cup rings.
Anyway, never mind that. Avalanche fans can’t control if O’Reilly’s being greedy or business savvy. We can’t control if the Avalanche are being stingy or business savvy. We can’t control what’s going to happen in arbitration.
What we can control is our fanship.
So, take a moment this week to tweet your favorite player about how much you appreciate him. Even better, tweet Matt Duchene, even if he isn’t your favorite. His loyalty to our team has been constant from the second he celebrated being drafted by the Avalanche. Let him know we appreciate that.