Some Details on CWHL Player Incentives

So, we’ve heard tell before that CWHL players receive a cash prize for winning the Clarkson Cup, but previously I hadn’t been able to hunt down many more details. Krista Patronick, the Boston Blades’ new GM, was able to provide some more info.

While CWHL players remain unpaid– and the current forecast is still one to two years before the league can afford to pay players– it turns out that the league provides a small monetary bonus for players who receive an individual award, or are on a team that finishes the season with the best record or wins the Clarkson Cup. Last year, the award amount was $500. This year, it’s been increased to $1000. These awards accumulate, as well — so if a player, like Brianna Decker did, receives an individual award such as Rookie of the Year, and is on the team that finishes the year with the best record, and goes on to win the Clarkson Cup, the player receives three bonuses. Last year, Decker received $1500 from the league in bonuses — if another player were to do so this year, they’d receive $3000. Patronick was not able to confirm if there was a minimum number of games that players needed to be rostered for the team awards.

While Patronick cited this as an example of the league’s commitment to paying their players, I’ve got to admit that this kind of bonus structure without a salary causes me some concern. While this kind of bonus provides an incentive to succeed, it can also be seen as providing a source of hockey-related income to the players who are, as top level talent, most likely to have a hockey-related source of income already, either from a national team stipend or from product or equipment endorsements. While all of this seems somewhat silly to quibble over– it’s at most $3000 this year, that’s not a lot of money– it’s not a great precedent to be set when players last year were required to pay in to go to the Clarkson Cup tournament.