A big name in the National Hockey League — agent J.P. Barry — is throwing his weight behind junior players in the Canadian Hockey League, arguing they deserve a better compensation system.
"We [agents] have to be involved in arranging the affairs of the players who have choices to make," said Barry, who represents Daniel and Henrik Sedin, Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Toews and John Tavares and other big names in the NHL.
"The players, they're chasing a dream, and 90 per cent of them or 95 per cent of them aren't going to go on to play a high level of pro hockey and those players — we need to have scholarships available to them so they can move on in life, and I think we want some consistency in the process."
The Champions Program, which was established in 2011 by the league, gives CHL players $10,000 toward tuition fees for every year of competition.
$10k tuition, but there's a catch
Barry said that program often leaves players with a difficult choice to make at the end of their junior careers, as they have to enrol in a post-secondary institution within 18 months to claim the money.
"They have a cut off. Basically, these players have 18 months to decide at the end of their junior career whether to take them, or — if they play professional hockey in a lesser league in Europe, those scholarships are being voided," he said.
"I think a lot of us want to see changes on the type of leagues they're allowed to play in and also the time frame."
In October, a $180-million class-action lawsuit was filed in Ontario Court, alleging players in Canada's three major junior hockey leagues are paid less than minimum wage.
It states players are paid between $35 and $50 per week for what amounts to full time work.
"I think there has to be a debate across the country about what's fair," said Barry, who said he would like to see a national players' association for junior players.
In recent months Unifor, Canada's largest private sector union, has called for a national task force to examine the junior hockey industry.
To hear the full interview with J.P. Barry, click the audio labelled: J.P. Barry criticizes CHL compensation.