The Canadiens’ 36-year-old journeyman winger Mathieu Darche is hardly a millionaire, but the perennially struggling Maple Leafs have been ranked by Forbes magazine as the NHL’s most valuable franchise. (Nick Turchiaro/Icon SMI)
By Stu Hackel
The owners and players are continuing their negotiations with the help of federal mediators, and we’re not going to hear anything about what is going on or even where it’s going on until the process is over, one way or another. There’s a gag order on both parties, thankfully, since every previous self-imposed attempt to keep things quiet has failed. Usually, the less heard about what’s going on, the better. We mentioned long ago that when you don’t hear anything about negotiations, that can be a sign that progress is being made, but when things aren’t going well, you’ll hear about it, either at formal press briefings or leaked to the media, and we’ve had lots of briefings and leaks until now.
If you want to know more about the mediation process, Eric Macramalla provides it here at TSN.ca.
UPDATE: Mediation concluded after two days with the sides remaining apart, unable to close the gap on their differences. Here’s TSN’s report.
By the way, if you think this is a battle strictly between billionaires and millionaires, you might want to read Pat Hickey’s story in The Montreal Gazette about Mathieu Darche, who for many years as a pro shuttling between the NHL and minor leagues made around $75,000 and only got his first one-way NHL contract for $500,000 per season when he was 33 years old. Darche, who turned 36 on Monday and is a free agent now, has never made a million a season. He told Hickey that there are 200 NHL players who, going into the lockout, had signed contracts for less than $1 million. It’s a good story and provides some valuable insight into a sizable portion of the player pool: the guys who don’t often show up in the headlines and, just like many of us, have to keep an eye on their spending habits.