Junior hockey players from across the country could form a union
Published Sunday, September 2, 2012 5:23PM EDT
Last Updated Sunday, September 2, 2012 6:56PM EDT
The Kitchener Rangers are celebrating their 50th season and fans are expecting big things from the team. This year they have 17 returning players; fans think this year's team won't get knocked around very easily
Joel Jonathan Klassen says “They have a lot of good players returning from last year.”
On Sunday, fans gathered in the Uptown Waterloo Square to take part of the annual fan appreciation day.
Underlying this years Rangers' season is talk that junior hockey players from across the country could be forming a union.
Former NHL tough guy George Laraque has been tapped to lead the new union called the, Canadian Hockey League Players Association, representing players in the Ontario Hockey League, Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and Western Hockey League.
To date, no formal request to organize the players has been made.
Appearing on French language televisionlast month, Laraque said he wanted more education available to young players.
While the function of the union hasn’t been formally announced, there are reports that say, it will strive for better representation of the league's 1,300 junior hockey players when it comes to education packages and restitution for their use in league branding among the three major junior hockey leagues in Canada.
In a leaked document, the potential union asks for players to have up to five years to attend post secondary school. Ranger’s management says it agrees that education is a priority.
Kitchener Rangers chief operating officer Steven Bienkowski says, “For us last year I think we spent a little over 140-thousand in actual scholarships paid out, and I think our financials show we're on the liability out there for just almost $900-thousand for unclaimed ones so far”
But what the potential union isn't explaining, says Bienkowski, is that some players get scholarships from universities. Others bank their weekly stipend of fifty dollars.
“I have a daughter who goes to Queen's and I know the costs of what it takes to go to university and I guess I take the attitude that if someone was willing to pay half, three quarters, whatever. It’s a nice contribution to those costs.”
It’s estimated the Canadian Hockey League brings in about $ 250-million for its 60 teams.
The Kitchener Rangers, along with every other Ontario based team in the Ontario Hockey League, has to pay for American-born players to receive high school education in our public system, costing the teams $11,000 per player.