Remember the good old days when "amateurs" participated in the Olympics? While the term might mean different things to different people, amateurs play for the love of the sport, not for money. In most cases, they actually pay their own hard-earned cash just for the opportunity to play.
Now in this age of capitalism and commercialism, you have spoiled athletes from Russia complaining about the food quality in the Olympic Village. Times have changed.
While the USA hockey victory over Team Canada was certainly not a miracle on Sunday night, don't let anyone fool you. It was a significant upset. It's easy to say that any group of NHL players can beat another group on any given night, but the reality of the situation is that Canada has the cream of the NHL crop on their roster.
Not so much for the Americans.
Just compare their salaries:
| Team Canada
|| Team USA
| Cap Hit
|| Cap Hit
|Martin Brodeur||$ 5,200,000.00||Ryan Miller||$ 6,250,000.00|
|Marc-Andre Fleury||$ 5,000,000.00||Jonathan Quick||$ 770,000.00|
|Dan Boyle||$ 6,667,000.00||Tim Thomas||$ 5,000,000.00|
|Duncan Keith||$ 1,475,000.00||Tim Gleason||$ 2,750,000.00|
|Scott Niedermayer||$ 6,750,000.00||Jack Johnson||$ 1,425,000.00|
|Brent Seabrook||$ 3,500,000.00||Erik Johnson||$ 3,700,000.00|
|Shea Weber||$ 4,500,000.00||Brooks Orpik||$ 3,750,000.00|
|Ryan Getzlaf||$ 5,325,000.00||David Backes||$ 2,500,000.00|
|Dany Heatley||$ 7,500,000.00||Brian Rafalski||$ 6,000,000.00|
|Jarome Iginla||$ 7,000,000.00||Dustin Brown||$ 3,175,000.00|
|Patrick Marleau||$ 6,300,000.00||Ryan Callahan||$ 2,300,000.00|
|Brenden Morrow||$ 4,100,000.00||Ryan Suter||$ 3,500,000.00|
|Rick Nash||$ 5,400,000.00||Chris Drury||$ 7,050,000.00|
|Corey Perry||$ 5,325,000.00||Ryan Whitney||$ 4,000,000.00|
|Mike Richards||$ 5,750,000.00||Patrick Kane||$ 3,725,000.00|
|Joe Thornton||$ 7,200,000.00||Ryan Kesler||$ 1,750,000.00|
|Jonathan Toews||$ 2,800,000.00||Phil Kessel||$ 5,400,000.00|
|Sidney Crosby||$ 8,700,000.00||Jamie Langenbrunner||$ 2,800,000.00|
|Roberto Loungo||$ 6,750,000.00||Ryan Malone||$ 4,500,000.00|
|Drew Doughty||$ 3,475,000.00||Zach Parise||$ 3,125,000.00|
|Chris Pronger||$ 6,250,000.00||Joe Pavelski||$ 1,637,000.00|
|Eric Staal||$ 8,250,000.00||Bobby Ryan||$ 1,922,000.00|
|Patrice Bergeron||$ 4,750,000.00||Paul Stastny||$ 6,600,000.00|
|$ 127,967,000.00||$ 83,629,000.00|
Team USA's $83 million of salary in US currency is not exactly chickenfeed, but the Canadians' salary total is more than 50% higher than the Americans and weighs in at $127 million USD. Doesn't that mean that they should be 50% better?
After reviewing the numbers, it makes one wonder if some of these players are worth it.
Many of the Americans are younger and do not have the pedigree that the Canadians do yet, but if they keep playing the way they have been playing? The gap will close, quickly.
Meanwhile, the total of Team Canada's salaries would make a good start toward Latvia's GNP.
Yes, any team of NHL players can beat another team on any given night, but let's not kid ourselves. It normally doesn't happen, or at least, it should not happen. The better players should come out on top.
But are the best players necessarily the highest paid?
Some American fans might be asking themselves, if any team can beat any team on any given night and the talent level is about equal throughout the NHL, shouldn't the pay be commensurate? Or do Canadian players, by average, make more than their counterparts from the United States and Europe?
Is there a veiled nationalism in the NHL? Do Canadian born referees make preferential calls for Canadian born players? Are coaches more apt to keep Canadian players? Do Canadian born general managers offer better contracts to their brethren originally from north of the border?
While non-Canadian superstars obviously get their money, do the average and above average players?
In a league dominated by proud Canadians, some Americans and Europeans might be quietly asking themselves: Is there is a level playing field in the NHL? While this writer does not have the answers, the subject might make a good case study for a quiet summer day.
In the meantime, perhaps Don Cherry has the answers?