Playing Jr. ’til You’re 24?!?

Updated: October 28, 2014 at 12:49 pm by Wheelerj28

Sam Berg, former CHLer has filed a class action lawsuit against the league
claiming he (and the 1300 other CHL players) was underpaid while he played in
the league, when he says underpaid, he’s talking about being paid below minimum

The CHL has always been looked at as an amateur hockey league, it’s the
league that you play in if you want to get to the NHL.  WHL, OHL, QMJHL, these
are the leagues that make up the CHL.  It has a bantam draft where players (14
years of age) are selected by these CHL teams and added to their rosters.  The
player does not have to play in the league, but if they choose to play, they
play under the team they are drafted by unless they are released or traded to a
different team under the CHL umbrella.  There has always been a decision to be
made for the majority of these players, albeit some shorter than others, and the
decision is to either play in the CHL, or play Tier ll Junior and still retain
their eligibility to play in the NCAA under an athletic

CHL and NCAA have had a long standing battle over the eligibility of players,
because the NCAA being a scholastic enterprise, do not allow anyone that has
played professionally to be involved in any of the athletic programs. As it
stands right now, if a player is on the roster for an inter-squad game with a
CHL team, they lose one year of eligibility, if said player plays the entire
year, they still lose only that one year of eligibility to play in the NCAA. 
Coincidently, the NCAA has a 4 year window for players under scholarship and the
CHL’s average length of playing time is 4 years.  Most of you know this, but I
want it to be front of mind as we move along with this.

Berg is claiming players are underpaid at an amateur level; that depends on what
is considered ‘pay’.  In its most basic form, it’s receiving compensation for
labour/work.  According to a posting in Yahoo Answers from 2012 (,
here’s what players in the CHL get as part of their compensation for playing
hockey in the league:
players in the QMJHL will be alotted $1657/mo for the 2010-11 season 
All players in the OHL will be alotted
$1593.21/mo for the 2010-11 season 
All players in the WHL will be allotted $1601/mo for
the 2010-11 season 

The differences are due to the cost of

Players are paid monthly in accordance with Canadian tax laws
(pay frequency determines EI and CPP rates and monthly pay minimizes the
rate). Players are required to purchase their own equipment. Only pants, socks,
jerseys, and gloves are provided for uniform purposes as dictated by the CHL.
(Sticks are provided by league

How much a player actually receives in money is
determined by how far a player lives from his home team….so a player who lives
in the same town as his team will receive less actual cash as the billet
allotment is not paid out. 

The CHL is determined to be an amateur sports
league under Canadian Law, and this determination is supported by Hockey Canada
(enacted in 1973 as the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association), under Canadian
Law, no amateur athlete is permitted to receive ‘bonus’ money. Under the
articles creating all three CHL Leagues, any money
given to a player in excess of the agreed allotment that is not for living or
educational purposes
will result in expulsion of the player and team from
the league in which they are playing. 

So, that being said, is Sam Berg to blame for not getting a better
contract?  Not necessarily, but if anything should come of this lawsuit, it
should be fair for everyone across the board.  Here’s what I

Players that enter the league under the age of 18 will be subject to the
current rules set up by the CHL (or close to under the current agreement). 
Costs of food/transportation/housing/equipment will be covered by the club. 
Each player will receive $100 (non-taxable) per-diem/week during the
that are 18 years of age (either entering the league, or coming of age in the
league) will be entered into a semi-professional contract with their club
totaling no less than $25,000/season and no more than $40,000/season (season
consisting of the day training camp opens to the end of league playoffs).  Cost
of equipment and per-diem during road trips will be covered by the club. 
Players over the age of 18 will be entitled to a percentage of the merchandise
that bears their name or likeness.

that play will not be given Canadian University rights for the seasons they play
after the age of 18.  The # of seasons played under the age of 18 will be
reciprocated in good faith for the same amount of year paid in a Canadian
Players that play in the league for both their 19 and 20 year old seasons,
will have the option to play in the league until they are 24 years of age inside
of that calendar year.  The contract will extend with no more or less than the
previous agreement at the time of their 18 year old agreement.  No player may
enter the league after the age of 19 years of age.
Players that have been selected in the NHL entry draft and have not been
selected to play on the teams roster in the 19 or 20 year old year will be
returned to their junior club.  If they are over the age of 20, the team has the
option to send the player to their AHL affiliate but not back to their Junior
player that steps on the ice for their junior club in anything more than
training camp (inter squad/exhibition/league match) after turning 18 will lose
their entire eligibility into the NCAA.  Any player under the age of 18 will
have the option to enter the NCAA with no penalty.

This makes the line very clear between the CHL and the NCAA once and for
all.  It’s a benefit for both leagues, as the NCAA has the potential to take a
player with 2 years experience in the CHL at the age of 18, or instead take a
player who spent 3-4 years in Tier ll who may be upwards of 21 years old.  Which
is kind of the point of bringing this up.  There are players who never reach
their full potential when they come of age, and others that are late bloomers
and completely miss an opportunity to play pro hockey because they were
overlooked once they joined a league like the East Coast League, Central,

also allows players who were not selected in the draft to play a few more years
of hockey and develop their game a little further while making some actual money
while doing it.  It makes for an easier transition into ‘real life’ for some of
these players who (let’s be honest) don’t have an effing clue what to do once
hockey is over.
it need some tweaking?  Of course it does.  I’m not a lawyer first of all, and
second of all I wrote this while sitting at my desk eating Spitz (the new Spicy
Sweet Chili… which are lovely btw).  But I think we can all agree that they
league is probably making too much money and the players; not enough.  So a
happy medium should be reached in the future.  As far as Mr. Berg is concerned…
Go to college and play some more hockey, take what is offered to you and do it
with a smile on your face that you might have sparked a change for the better in
years to come for the players, but as of right now, you’re owed exactly what
you’ve received.

(section 217)