Lockout affects different players different ways

Lockout affects different players different ways
October 25, 2012, 1:15 am
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Let’s face it. From a financial standpoint the NHL lockout is not seriously hurting millionaire players like Alex Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby and Vinny Lecavalier.

The players feeling the biggest sting from the NHL’s work freeze are first- and second-year players like Capitals forward Jay Beagle, who on Monday will go without a paycheck for the second straight pay period.

Unlike Ovechkin, who earns $9.5 million a season with the Capitals and is reportedly fetching $6 million playing for Dynamo Moscow of the KHL, Beagle has been counting on his wife, Ashley, to pay the bills.

Ashley Beagle works at a local hospital as an oncology nurse.

“She’s actually bringing home the dough right now,” Beagle said. “She’s been working long hours. It takes a special person to [work with cancer patients] and she’s great at it, too.”

Beagle said the domestic role reversal has gone pretty well.

“I’m the house wife right now,” he said. “I’m cooking all the meals. I clean the house. But I don’t do any of the laundry. I can’t do that.”

Beagle, 27, recently signed a three-year, $2.7 million contract with the Caps that would have paid him $700,000 this season and $1 million in each of the next two years. While that sounds nice, it is well below the NHL average salary of $2.4 million a season, which is $1 million more than the average NHL salary was seven years ago.

Prior to signing his first NHL contract, Beagle made $65,000 a year in his first two seasons with the AHL Hershey Bears. He then split the 2010-11 season between the Bears, where he made a prorated $105,000 a season, and the Capitals, where he made a prorated $500,000.

It wasn’t until last season that Beagle finally received a full season of NHL pay at $525,000.

Beagle said every NHL player was informed last season that a potential lockout was looming and that they should manage their money accordingly. For someone like Ovechkin, that means planning on life without a biweekly check of $733,727.84.
For Beagle, it means missing out on $51,846.15 every two weeks.

“It’s not like we planned on these paychecks, and now they’re gone,” Beagle said. “Even midway through the summer we were like, ‘OK, let’s go into a mode of saving and watch our spending a lot more tightly.’

“It’s unfortunate for guys who haven’t been in the league that long and have been in the minors for awhile. It hits you a little harder because you don’t have that much money saved up. But when we missed a paycheck on the 15th  [of October], we knew that was coming.”

Beagle insists this lockout is more about principle than it is about dollars and cents. He, like all NHL players, simply wants his current contract paid in full.

According to the players’ union, the owners’ most recent proposal would cut that salary by 12.3 percent. In other words, Beagle’s $700,000 salary would be sliced by $86,100, while Ovechkin’s $9.538 million salary would be sliced by $1.173 million.

That, in essence, is the crux of the players’ argument.   

“A lot of the guys feel the same way,” Beagle said. “We don’t really care as much about missing the paychecks. We just want to get a deal done and get to playing hockey. That’s what bothers me. I don’t look at it and say, ‘I’m missing this much money.’ I look at it as, ‘I’m missing this many games.’ Getting paid is nice, but the bottom line is I just want to get a deal done and play. But I know things have to be worked out. It’s a business.”

Until the league’s owners and players can figure out a way to divide an estimated $3.3 billion in annual revenue, Beagle will continue cleaning the house and cooking up some of the best steaks he and his wife have ever tasted.

“I’ve got some signature dishes she looks forward to coming home to,” he said.