Hockey Player Money Is Different Than Viola Player Money

I was fiddling around with my personal budget today, and for one reason or another, I got to thinking about NHL salaries.

Take Thomas Vanek, for example.

Vanek makes $7,142,857 per year.

I have NO idea what sort of taxes you have to pay when you make that kind of money, and I’m waaaay too lazy to try to figure it out, so for simplicity’s sake let’s just say that with taxes, agent fees, union fees, and of course the dreaded escrow, Thomas Vanek only sees about 50% of his annual salary in the form of cash. I actually suspect that it’s much less than that, but I like “50%” because it means I just have to press “÷ 2” on my calculator to figure out his (totally made-up at this point) take-home pay.

So, at the most, Vanek is taking home a measly $3,571,428.50 in cash a year.   I know!  How does he survive?

When I started thinking about writing this post, I DMed Mike Harrington on twitter, and he was nice enough to answer a few questions.  According to Mike, hockey players only get paid during the regular season (meaning no paychecks during the preseason, which I think is a little odd), and they get paid every two weeks.   Don’t even try to pretend that information isn’t strangely interesting.

A hockey season is between 25-28 weeks long.  Let’s call it 28 weeks, because it’s a nice round number.  We’ll pretend this is an Olympic year, and therefore a longer season.

So, you take $3,571,428.50 and divide it by 28 weeks, and then you multiply that by 2 to figure out what Thomas Vanek’s paycheck looks like.


According to my (super scientific and not-at-all based on complete guesses) calculations, Thomas Vanek gets a paycheck for $255,102.07 every two weeks during the hockey season.

Now, I didn’t do all this math (math is hard!) so that we can marvel at how rich Thomas Vanek is, and I definitely didn’t bring it up to cast negative light on Vanek’s salary.  He’s a highly skilled and incredibly rare athlete.  All the power to him, I say.

But, the idea of getting a paycheck for a quarter of a million dollars is downright hilarious to me.  I actually did the math on this, like, five times, because the number seems so preposterous when I think about it in the form of a paycheck.

The number brings up all sorts of amusing questions.

Do you think he has direct deposit?  I have direct deposit at work, but my boss still walks around on payday handing everyone their fake checks.  Does Larry Quinn come through the locker room every other Friday and hand everyone a ridiculously huge check?   Is Thomas Vanek’s locker at HSBC filled with pay stubs for a quarter of a million dollars that all have, “this is not a real check” written on them?  Is it possible that Vanek DOESN’T have direct deposit?   Can you imagine Thomas Vanek standing in line at the bank, waiting to deposit his $250,000 after work on Friday? Do you think they get excited about payday the way we do?  Is Vanek ever all, “Oooh, I’m going to buy that new diamond-encrusted Escalade….but not until payday,” or is payday just totally meaningless?

Is it possible that some of the younger guys are so bad with their money that they ever run out?  That seems unlikely.  I think the more likely scenario is that guys like Tyler Myers wind up with, like, $500,000 in their checking account by the end of the season.  Then they go home to bumblefuck-wherever in the summer and talk to their family accountant and he’s all, “Dude.  You can’t keep all of your money in your checking account.  You have to invest this shit.”  And then Tyler Myers is all, “Okay.  Whatever you say Uncle Milt.  Do I have enough money to buy this diamond-encrusted iphone case?”  And Uncle Milt is all, “Yeah.  Totally.”


These are the kind of things I think about.   I don’t know why.

19 Responses to “Hockey Player Money Is Different Than Viola Player Money”

  1. 1 Caroline January 19, 2011 at 9:59 pm

    I hope the players don’t have direct deposit. It’s so much more funnier to imagine them all sitting around in their locker stalls and them opening their paychecks and examining it to make sure that everything is correct. And if there are problems they wait in line in the payroll department like all the other arena employees.

  2. 2 Katebits January 19, 2011 at 10:01 pm

    It’s so much more funnier to imagine them all sitting around in their locker stalls and them opening their paychecks and examining it to make sure that everything is correct.

    Haha! Totally. Crunchy has to be all, “Damn it! They forgot my per diem AGAIN!”

  3. 3 mcguffers January 19, 2011 at 10:02 pm

    and they get paid every two weeks. Don’t even try to pretend that information isn’t strangely interesting.

    This makes me giggle. I wonder if you ever hear two of the guys say anything like, “Let’s go see ‘No Strings Attached’ next week. It’ll be a pay week.”

  4. 4 Katebits January 19, 2011 at 10:17 pm

    Hee! Somehow I doubt they have that conversation very often, mcguffers. Maybe about lavish vacations…

  5. 5 mcguffers January 19, 2011 at 10:25 pm

    Heh. Yeah, probably more, “Let’s fly to Hawaii for dinner next week. It’s a pay week.”

  6. 6 kms2 January 19, 2011 at 11:47 pm

    hahhaha, i LOVE this post! I think about this stuff all the time, especially right during free agency, when players like Kovalchuk practically demand to be paid $10 million/year, as if he just could not survive one more day if was only getting paid $9 or $8 or $7 million. The horror!!

    and I don’t doubt that some guys go bat-shit crazy with their spending. They probably think “whatever, I got a quarter mill direct depositing in two weeks”.

  7. 7 zot January 20, 2011 at 2:05 am

    It’s interesting that you wrote this, because I had just read this the other day. Apparently, you are not the only thinking about this. :)

  8. 8 Justin Bourne January 20, 2011 at 3:16 am

    This was terrific. It always boggles my mind too, mostly since I was so close to seing those numbers. At my best, I was clearing a couple grand every two weeks, but most of the time, It was closer to half of that. The crazy part is, you don’t get paid five or six months of the year, so if you were a minor leaguer like myself, you ended up sharpening skates during the summer (I really did that).

    Obviously, I have a number of friends who did “make it.” I really need to ask them how bizarre that is that they’re crazy rich. It seems different for hockey players though, vs. sayyy football players. It’s less obvious who suddenly blindenly rich. I’m ask some questions and try for a similar post!

  9. 9 Schnookie January 20, 2011 at 9:35 am

    Katebits, I love thinking about this! I mean, what a completely preposterous paycheck! I used to work in a bank that a handful of Phoenix-based pro athletes used, and sadly, I never saw a paycheck. Just them withdrawing bucketloads of cash at a time… Anyway, I’d never really considered the hilarity of them holding off on the diamond-encrusted stuff until payday; I bet that’s why Vanek’s so moody — he’s moping around until his next check when he can buy that solid-gold golf shirt he’s had his eye on. (During the NBA lockout there was lots of talk that a lot of their players actually do live paycheck to paycheck, which is an even more absurd thought. Exactly how opulently do you have to live to be burning through that much money every two weeks? I think someone should let me try that. I could write a post about it.)

  10. 10 Jonathan January 20, 2011 at 9:44 am

    He actually gets his money in Sabrebucks, which he can only use at the Sabre Store.

  11. 11 Katebits January 20, 2011 at 10:11 am

    Hey thanks for stopping in, everyone! I’m glad that you liked this one. I actually wasn’t sure how well it would go over. I should’ve known I not the only one who thinks about this stuff. Heh.

    kms2! Thanks for liking the post! This really does put the Kovalchuks into perspective, doesn’t it? I mean, how could he survive on Vanek money? Is he supposed to live in a box, or something?

    zot, thanks for the link. That article was pretty depressing though. I hope Tyler Myers isn’t wasting his diamond-encrusted iphone case money buying dinners for the rest of the dumb Sabres. Buy your own dinner, Roy-Z!

    Thanks for stopping in, Justin! I would love love LOVE to read a post about this from you. I actually thought a little about NFLers when I was writing this post. Not only is football money even more insane than hockey money, but the good players get it straight out of college, before they’ve played a single NFL game. Seems like it could create a super weird vibe in the locker room.
    But please, if in your investigative research you discover something seedy about how Tyler Myers spends his money, do NOT tell me about it. I’m very attached to Tyler Myers as a super boring, good boy. If I find out he’s actually broke because he wasted all of his money on hookers and blow, I’m gonna be irked. :)

    Schnookie, if there is one person I want to see attempting to burn through @250,000 every other week for the good of a blog post, it’s you. I mean, how much fabric IS there in the world? You’d probably have to build a mansion for your fabric to live in.

    Jonathan, hahaha! Tyler Myers has to spend all his time trying to resell Sabres hoodies on ebay in order to pay his rent. Poor guy.

  12. 12 Jaime January 20, 2011 at 11:24 am

    Oh My Good God! That made me laugh out loud! My mind is blown with the hilarity of the situation:)

  13. 13 Amy January 20, 2011 at 12:37 pm

    Tyler Myers has to spend all his time trying to resell Sabres hoodies on ebay in order to pay his rent.

    Swap out “Ryan Miller” for Tyler Myers, “hipster wear” for Sabres hoodies, “the Refinery” for ebay and “wedding costs” for rent and we could perhaps have a whole nother story to tell.*

    *kidding. I’m sure Crunchy is very serious and studiously responsible with his wealth.

    I wonder if it does get awkward ever between players knowing who makes what since that’s all public info. I don’t know the exact figures my co-workers make, and I think I’m almost happier with that. But there’s a big difference between a gigundo Vanek salary and a McCormick who makes league minimum.

  14. 14 Jillian January 20, 2011 at 2:59 pm

    This is really interesting to think about, and I never thought about it in this way, because I didn’t know the actual info. Now knowing they get paid bi-weekly (like me!) makes me think of how much bigger their checks are than mine. I need to get into the NHL asap…oh wait, do they take women in the nhl yet? No? Ok then. haha

  15. 15 Patty January 20, 2011 at 5:23 pm

    This post has had me smiling since I read it last night! I had to come back and read it again, along with all the great responses. How do we feel about the fact that Tim Connolly is in the upper tier of wage earners on this team??? Quick Kate, what is Timmy earning roughly??? If it is more than 10 bucks I have an issue….and that’s 10 bucks biweekly….

  16. 16 Patty (in Dallas) January 20, 2011 at 8:38 pm

    This post cracks me up! In my new job, the boss comes by every other Friday and hands out everybody’s fake checks. It’s weird even for me. It’s hilarious to imagine Joe Nieuwendyk wandering into the locker room with a handful of checks. I wonder if they check to see how much vacation they’ve accrued, like I do every time. :D

  17. 17 Erin January 21, 2011 at 9:12 am

    Funny blog post Kate!

    As an aside, a lawyer friend of mine once told me that the players are required to pay local city and state taxes in the various different cities they play in. So if one week you play in Boston, Tampa and Montreal you would pay different tax rates based on where you played. I don’t know if this is true but it sounds like a payroll nightmare.

    I heard somewhere else that every NHL player is paid in American dollars, even if their team and ‘check’ are in Canada.

    Innnnnnneresting…..well at least to me.

  18. 18 Ryan January 21, 2011 at 2:03 pm

    I heard a story about Manny Ramirez when he was on the Red Sox that always made me think about these things. He ordered food for the team (bagels or tacos or something) and had one of the bat boys take his car to pick it up.

    The bat boy asked for money and he told him he had some in the car’s glove compartment. In there was a handful of game uncashed game checks (no direct deposit for Manny) worth a few hundred thousand dollars. Uncashed.

    When all that stuff went down and he left the Red Sox, it was that story that made me think it was never really about the money. I mean, how could it be? (I think Simmons cited it as such in his mega-story about the trade afterwards)

    Anyway, I think Vanek should buy a statue of himself holding the Sabres crest on his back. It would make for a nice conversation piece.

  19. 19 dani January 21, 2011 at 3:45 pm

    I’m like fairly certain Tyler is really good.

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