Earlier this week, former NHL defenseman Chris Pronger took to Twitter in a thread, trying to downplay the money a NHL player makes by showing us the “net” or “take home” aspect of the contracts that we hear about. While some of it could be eye opening to some, the overall sense is that it didn’t help. If his goal was to gain sympathy from the public, it even failed miserably.
Let’s recap what Pronger was trying to convey, shall we?
He took the example of a player signing a five year, $30 million contract ($6 million per year). Right there, Chris is starting on the wrong foot. He’d be better off starting with a league average instead, which is somewhere around $3.5 million a year. Even then, the minimum salary for an NHL player in 2021-22 is three quarters of a million dollar ($750,000). But for the sake of this article, let’s play with Pronger’s numbers.
Off the top, the former player mentions that the escrow is taken off the top, and he estimates the average to be 10%. On $6 million a year, we’re looking at $600,000 so leaving $5.4 million.
Pronger then broke down the taxes in two:
- Federal: he arbitrarily took 37% as a number, so around $2 million he says, leaving $3.4 million.
- “Local“: According to him, it ranges from $0 in Florida and Texas, to 16% in New York. He went with 8%, so taking $432,000 off the top, leaving $2.968 million.
He then took the player’s agent’s cut, which he says averages to 3%. That’s $162,000 a year, leaving 2,806,000 net, or “take home” as some call it.
NOTE: Based on capfriendly.com, players will pay anywhere between $2.115 million (in Nashville) to $2.774 million (in Ontario), which includes Players’ Agents (3%), Escrow (10%) and both taxes factored in, on a $6 million salary. In Montreal, the players would pay the third most (after Ontario), so $2.773 million. Pronger’s example shows $3.194, which is $421,000 higher than Ontario, so nowhere close to the average.
I’m no fiscal expert but I have lived a decent life. Here’s where I feel like Pronger’s attempt to sympathy fails greatly, as many of the following numbers are arbitrary, or choices on the part of players.
- Housing: He says that typically, players are not from the city they play in so they either rent or buy a house. He estimated a rent $5k month. That seems quite high, so let’s assume it’s luxury living.
- Health: Pronger says that typically, they have a chiropractor, masseuse and trainer that they are paying for in and out of season, with a cost of around $20,000 per year. In Canada, the health services are paid for and in the United States, most people have health insurance for that. So they choose to pay out of pocket for personal services, obviously. Again, a choice.
- Vehicle: He estimates the cost of a vehicle to $75,000 annually to go to and from practices and games. Two things: one, everyone has to pay for vehicles in real life, and two, few people I know pay $75k per year for that! Players also often get breaks, sponsorships from car dealers in exchange for a little promotion.
- Nutrition: I’ll give him that players should have some special nutrition but his numbers are way out of whack! He estimates the cost of nutrition for a NHL player at $6-7,000 per month, or around $60,000 per year? Wow Chris, we weren’t born yesterday…
Dose of reality
According to his (highly inflated) calculations, Pronger estimates that a player making $6 million a year takes home, net (all expenses paid), around $2.591 million, or around 43% of the gross number.
|PRONGER DEDUCTION||PRONGER NET||EST. DEDUCTION||EST. NET|
|Escrow, Agent, Taxes||– $3.194M||$2.806M||– $2.88M *||$3.12M|
|Housing||– $60k||$2.746M||– $36k||$3.084M|
|Health||– $20k||$2.726M||– $10k **||$3.074M|
|Vehicle||– $75k||$2.651M||– $15k ***||$3.059M|
|Nutrition||– $78k||$2.573M||– $30k||$3.029M|
|TOTALS||– $3.427M||$2.573M||– $2.971M||$3.029M|
* Taking a higher than average 48% Taxes and Escrow (10%), Agent (3%)
** Counting health insurance and off-season private trainer
*** Keeping a vehicle for 5 years (still under warranty)
This does not take into account any tax shelters available to the players, which any good accountant will find their clients. It also doesn’t take any sponsorships into account (no escrow on that) or discounts they might have anywhere they go. No mentions of paid appearances to events, as public speakers, or trips with all expenses paid.
Nice try Chris but when a police officer in Canada makes around $75-80,000 a year putting his life on the line, as do firefighters, and most people won’t make $1 million in their life time, no one is going to feel sorry for the players being able to save $2-3 million a year after expenses paid. Perhaps some players need a dose of reality about the fans who contribute to them making that money…