Friday, August 26, 2005

Lemieux's Salary

A friend and I were talking about a hockey subject this last week and then I saw it on a message board so I thought my readers must be thinking the same thing: If you are Mario Lemieux, what do you pay yourself? Under the old system, it did not matter at all. You could pay yourself $5 million and re-invest some or most of that in the team. But in a cap environment, salary means a lot. The Pens are not going to bust the cap, but what they spend matters for revenue sharing.

The revenue sharing is complicated (I don't completely understand it) but there are two "batches" of revenue sharing. If a club spends more than average on player salaries, they are not eligible for the second batch. So you see why Lemieux's salary can be so important. If the Pens are $500,000 away from the average, and he just pays himself $450,000, then they can get revenue sharing. If they are $2 million away, he can pay himself $1.9 million.

We also have to look at if it's even fair for a player to hold front office positions. Why can't the Flyers just have Forsberg buy 2% of the team at a very discounted price, and then have him accept less money? (which is basically what is going on with Lemieux, except he owns a lot of the team) There has to be a provision in the CBA that stops teams from giving front-office positions or small slices of ownership to players. Lemieux bought the team pre-CBA, so it will not affect his ownership, but it is still something that needs to be addressed.

Someone on a message board mentioned Lemieux should get a special arbitration hearing to determine his salary. I think this is a great idea. Mario Lemieux is one of the best players of all-time and owns his team. If the Pens were at $33 million, only gave Lemieux $450,000, and then brought in a big time player to fill the rest of the cap space, there would be outrage. Lemieux is a several million dollar player, and his ownership should not allow the Pens to lowball him for revenue sharing purposes. Lemieux needs to earn a fair wage, so that the Pens payroll is actually their payroll.