NHL players’ wages should be higher than other professional sports


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Totaling 2.43 million per game in the United States, the NHL is the 6th most popular sport that sports fans say they like the most. The sport and league is growing in popularity more and more, especially with the addition of 2 new teams.

By: Sarah Quiceno, Reporter

More injuries and games played during their season gives reason for NHL players’ wages to be higher than other professional sports.

Other professional sports salaries vs. NHL salary

Athletes in the National Hockey League are among one of the lowest paid in terms of professional sports. The highest-paid professional sport, being the NBA, averages a salary of 8.32 million dollars per player. The average NHL player salary is 2.69 million dollars, almost a whole 6 million dollars less than NBA players.

The NHL salary cap in the 2022-2023 campaign has been raised by one million dollars, totaling $82.5 million. Salary caps define the total amount of money teams can pay all their players. Though the salary cap has been raised, it’s still dramatically lower than other sports. For example, the NFL’s cap during the 2022 season was 208.2 million dollars per team and 112.4 million dollars per team in the NBA, though exceptions for teams to go over this amount is allowed.

Low salaries for hockey players can be seen at levels across the boards. The East Coast Hockey League (ECHL) has players earning as low as $415 a week over a 72-game season. This comes out to less than $24,000 a year.

Even comparisons of highest-paid players in different sports shows a clear-cut difference between salaries of players. The highest-paid NBA player, Stephen Curry, is being paid $46 million in comparison to the highest-paid NHL player, Connor McDavid, who is only being paid $15 million. Other sports with dramatically higher salaries for their best players include the NFL with Aaron Rodgers‘ 50.3 million dollar annual salary, and MLB’s Max Scherzer 43.3 million dollar annual salary.

More injuries don’t equal more pay

Thousands of hockey players are getting injured during their seasons, with defensive players getting hurt the most. More than 20,000 injuries related to ice hockey are seen in emergency rooms every year in the US. Ice hockey is also the #1 ranked sport for causing concussions. The sport is ranked above other big sports such as football, wrestling, and soccer for these types of injuries.

The rough level of ice hockey makes it so that getting hit by another player in hockey actually hurts more than in other sports. On average, hits in hockey are 17% harder than getting hit in the NFL. Another factor to consider is that NFL players are usually bigger than hockey players, who are typically smaller.

Though players are more at risk to get injured, their pay is still low compared to other sports who get hurt less.

Season duration comparisons

NHL seasons have 82 regular-season games. This excludes if a team makes it to playoffs where there is an additional 4 rounds of best-of-seven-games. NHL players also play multiple games a week, which differs from NFL players who only play once a week. NFL regular seasons last 18 weeks and only 17 games are played per team.

With this in mind, it’s hard to comprehend why NHL players are paid so much less than NFL players if they get hurt more, hits are harder physically, and they play more games more frequently over a longer period of time.