Do WHL, OHL and QMJHL Players Get Paid?

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Do “WHL, OHL, or QMJHL Players get paid” is a common search I get on my site. Many people hear about Major Junior players making money and wonder how much they get.

Well, I hate to disappoint, but it’s not as much as you may think, and it isn’t exactly pay in the sense of salary. Here is the truth about getting paid in junior.

Do WHL, OHL, QMJHL Players Get Paid?

In short, players do receive money in these leagues, but in reality it’s a stipend.

The stipend is nice because it covers your gas for driving to and from the rink, and it gives you a little cash to go out with the boys (to the movies) on off nights. This past week, amidst all the Olympic excitement, the OHL made an announcement that it was increasing the stipend its players received. As quoted on, Yahoo Sports, (the oldest) players will now receive up $470 per month. (There are other extended goodies players received that are more exciting, in my opinion.) This is less than what I received a decade ago in the WHL, but it’s still a step in the right direction.

The increase is to help players keep up with their daily expenses and it does come in handy. Major Junior players play longer schedules and fill bigger rinks. One could also argue that they don’t have the time to work a job (but I doubt many players would anyway unless required). Most teenagers have the time to earn pocket change. Hockey players don’t.

When I was playing, we used our money for movies, food on the way to school, snacks on the road. I also spent money from my summer job. It’s not like I was banking a lot of cash…

Part of the intent is that players can use that money today, which allows them to save their money from summer jobs for off-season training or university down the road. (Even with their scholarships they will still have housing, food, gas and social expenses to pay for.)

Most players get the standard amount, some players undoubtably get something more under the table. I have no way to prove this. It’s just my opinion. On the flip side, the very best players will have signing bonuses in their NHL contracts larger than anything a team could pay.

Verdict: WHL, OHL and QMJHL players get paid. You’ll get some cash in these leagues, but it will just help you get to even on day-to-day expenses (and maybe save a bit for school when you’re a twenty).

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Do Junior A Hockey Players Get Paid?

Some people are going to get pissed off and argue with me over this, but yes, a small amount of Junior A players get money. Obviously, this is against the rules. If one player gets paid he is a pro by the NCAA rules, that brings into question the NCAA eligibility of everybody else. While NCAA rules are antiquated, in my opinion, they are what they are. People do find ways around them.

I go into the dirtier details of how this works in my book, the Junior Hockey Truth. Keeping it simple, I’ll say here what people don’t realize about the guys who get paid in tier II:

  • They are often ex-Major Junior players just saving money for school
  • Agreements are made by handshake, i.e. untracable.
  • Monetary amounts aren’t all that big, but there is no real standard
  • The money usually is intended for school, but it is often a cash payment made directly to the player

That fact is that if you’re playing Junior A and you’re serious about a scholarship, you won’t want to be near anything that makes you ineligible. You could get money, but it’s not a smart idea.

Likewise, if you’ve blown your NCAA eligibility already by playing Major Junior and you’ve been sent down, you probably aren’t THAT big of game changer anyway. If you were, you’d be in Major Junior or playing in the minors for $20, 000 per season. The cash you could negotiate for won’t be life changing. (I’d be a fool to tell you not to inquire about it though. Ask.)

That’s as deep as I’ll get into the Junior A side of things, but paying players does happen. It would just be very tough to prove.

Verdict: if you’re a twenty coming down, inquire and get your deal squared away before reporting. Just don’t expect any guarantees.

 What do you think about junior hockey players getting paid? Let your voice be heard and leave a comment below.

by Nick Olynyk (47 Posts)

Nick Olynyk is a junior hockey expert and author of the Junior Hockey Truth, a book series for parents of bantam and midget hockey players approaching junior hockey. To check out his book for bantam and midget hockey parents, go to: www.juniorhockeybook.com

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