Ron & Don: CHL minimum wage ‘will hurt hockey’

Ron MacLean and Don Cherry shares their memories of Mike Ilitch, discuss the return of Craig Anderson and the problems with giving OHL and WHL players minimum wage.

On Saturday’s Coach’s Corner segment, Don Cherry gave his opinion about the ongoing major junior lawsuit that is seeking minimum wage for players.

“You cannot have a minimum wage, it would add $300,000 to each club,” Cherry said. “The sticks are the same (cost) as the National Hockey League, the skates are the same (cost) as the National Hockey League, I could go on the expenses — I know, I was one of the owners.”

Currently in a Calgary court lawyers for the plaintiffs, a collection of more than 300 players and former players, are seeking certification for a civil suit that could eventually lead to mandatory minimum wage for CHL players. The hearing will carry into next week and could last as long as Wednesday before there is a ruling. Sportsnet’s Gare Joyce broke down a few key points about what the certification hearing could mean and what it could potentially lead to.

If minimum wage is made mandatory, it would come after a follow-up civil suit is ruled in favour of the plaintiffs. The QMJHL is not involved in the suits.

“If he says minimum wage, half of the teams will fold and it will go down the list to midgets and all, it will hurt hockey all the way,” Cherry said. “Absolutely ridiculous as far as I’m concerned getting minimum wage. They should be happy with their scholarships, they should be happy learning their trade, absolutely it’s a money grab as far as I’m concerned.”

It is not yet clear what minimum wage would mean to the CHL as a whole, as there are some teams who do appear to make money, while others struggle to make ends meet. However, the full financials of every team have not yet been made available to the public, which is another piece that is being argued in court.

Cherry owned the former Mississauga IceDogs (Now the Niagara IceDogs) at the beginning of their existence until they were sold in 2006.