2012 MasterCard Memorial Cup - Final - London Knights v Shawinigan Cataractes

Should junior hockey players get paid more?


We haven’t given much serious attention to the fledgling Canadian Hockey League Players’ Association and its attempts to unionize major junior hockey.

Frankly, it all just seems a little flaky to us. And with all due respect, the fact Georges Laraque has been named executive director does little to alleviate our pessimism.

Doesn’t really strike you as the next Donald Fehr.

There’s also this tidbit from Yahoo! Sports, which spoke to an unnamed player that was contacted about joining the union.

“I was given a hazy call last week about joining the CHLPA,” said the player, who did not want his name used. “(They) then followed up with an unprofessional email with no credentials.”

He didn’t bother to follow up.

Not sure how unprofessional an email has to be in order for a junior hockey player to deem it unprofessional, but if we had to guess, we’d say pretty unprofessional. (“Do u want 2 join a union? Shd be sweet!!!!”)

All that said, it does raise an interesting question: Should junior hockey players be paid more than the paltry weekly stipend they currently receive? Because it’s not like they’re playing in front of friends and family. These are multimillion-dollar operations. A lot of teams in the CHL outdraw those in the AHL.

(Yes, CHL players can earn money that goes towards furthering their education once their junior careers are over, but as Sportsnet’s Mark Spector points out, that money disappears if not used fairly soon after it becomes available.)

Of course, a similar debate has been raging in the NCAA for years, though over a lot more money. How much money? Well, last May, the Pac-12 signed a $2.7 billion TV contract with ESPN and FOX.

But if you’re an NCAA player — pardon me, “student athlete” — just be careful you don’t accept any free tattoos.

Larkin will start season with Red Wings

Dylan Larkin
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Dylan Larkin — despite being just 19 years old — will begin the season on the Detroit Red Wings, a team not normally accustomed to having teenagers in the lineup.

Coach Jeff Blashill confirmed the news this morning. Larkin could apparently start on a line with Henrik Zetterberg and Justin Abdelkader.

Larkin, the 15th overall pick in the 2014 draft, had three goals and one assist in five preseason games. A natural center, he’s shown the potential to one day step into the kind of “big-time” role that Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk have played for so long in Detroit.

“You have to give our scouts credit,” former coach Mike Babcock told ESPN in May. “We got a great pick where we picked. How high end is he? How soon?”

Related: Coaching change ‘one of the reasons’ Larkin signed with Wings

Preseason stats: Five goalies with good numbers, five goalies with…not

Anders Nilsson
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Yeah, yeah, it’s a small sample size and it’s just the preseason, but here are some goaltending stats anyway.

Five goalies with good numbers

Anders Nilsson, Edmonton — zero goals on 53 shots. His solid play a likely factor in the decision to waive Ben Scrivens, who actually wasn’t that bad in the preseason (4 goals on 56 shots).

Martin Jones, San Jose — three goals on 100 shots. The Sharks are rolling the dice on a couple of cheap goalies. Jones and Alex Stalock have a combined cap hit of just $4.6 million.

Jacob Markstom, Vancouver — three goals on 79 shots. Can he finally get over the NHL hump? If so, he could make it a real competition with Ryan Miller.

Sergei Bobrovsky, Columbus — five goals on 122 shots. The Blue Jackets have scored a ton of goals in the preseason, but there remain questions about their blue line. Bobrovsky has the ability to make a so-so defense look good.

Anton Khudobin, Anaheim — two goals on 67 shots. A good early sign for the Ducks, who have Frederik Andersen in the starting role and want to give young John Gibson more time to develop in the AHL.

Five goalies with bad numbers

Thomas Greiss, Islanders — 14 goals on 94 shots. Has to be a bit of concern in Brooklyn. The Isles got below-average backup play last season from Chad Johnson. They wanted to fix that with the Greiss signing.

Robin Lehner, Buffalo — 11 goals on 95 shots. Tim Murray paid a hefty price to get the 24-year-old out of Ottawa. With the aforementioned Johnson in the backup role, the goaltending story is worth watching.

Jeff Zatkoff, Pittsburgh — 11 goals on 74 shots. Granted, Marc-Andre Fleury and Matthew Murray weren’t particularly sharp either. The Penguins conceded 28 goals in eight games.

Kari Lehtonen, Dallas — 15 goals on 84 shots. For a Stars team that desperately needs better goaltending, that has to be worrying. Antti Niemi wasn’t a whole lot better either, allowing eight goals on 65 shots. Fair question to ask — how many of all those goals were attributable to poor defensive play?

Pekka Rinne, Nashville — 12 goals on 91 shots. Has earned the benefit of the doubt, but thought we’d point it out anyway.