The Toronto Maple Leafs may have a salary gap but it won’t divide the dressing room.
It’s true that the Leafs have three players making over $10M right now, but they’re all very good. Two of them are former first-overall picks who have scored more than 40 goals in a season and the other is one of the most humble 90-point scorers in the NHL.
I don’t think anyone is going to be upset that Matthews, Tavares or Marner are making the amount of money that they are. Also, you can add William Nylander at $6.9M per season into the conversation, but that’s peanuts compared to the top-three salaries.
When a player signs a contract, nobody is forcing them to do so. In fact, they have the right to find a new team, ask for more money or in the case of Ilya Mikheyev, take a discount. Also, let’s all agree that the discount Mikheyev took is complete B.S.
The “Soup-man” signed a $1.645M per season contract for two years after scoring only eight goals in 39 career NHL games. Meanwhile, Jimmy Vesey has scored 15-plus goals three times in only four NHL seasons and he settled for $900K, so Mikheyev should be pumped.
There’s No Salary Gap Divide In the Dressing Room
Back to my original point, though. When a player signs a contract, that’s it. They understand that’s their worth in the current market and they should be happy for what they get. Sometimes a player outperforms their contract and sometimes they underperform. At the end of the day, nobody is going to say:
“I can’t believe Auston Matthews, one of the best pure-goal scorers of our generation is making so much money. Who would pay for someone so talented? I wish he was on a different team because he makes too much money”
Also, the biggest reason why we can’t even argue if there is going to be a divide in the dressing room is because we’re not in the dressing room. I’m not in the room everyday, going out for dinner, playing video games or hanging out on the plane with these guys every day and neither is Dave Feschuk. How could you assume that there’s going to be a divide based on pay?
This isn’t a typical job we’re talking about. All of these players are getting paid millions of dollars and even the poorest player on the team can live comfortably for the rest of their lives. It’s not like the top-salesman is making $30K per year, while the laziest and most incompetent are earning $300K.
Every NHL team has a player (or multiple) that makes anywhere between 6-10X more than the lowest paid player on the team. For the Leafs sake, here are the five lowest salaries compared to the five highest salaries and you tell me if you think those low-paid players are going to divide the room.
Top 5 Highest Paid Salaries:
- Auston Matthews: Former 1st Overall Pick, 158 Goals, 285 Points in 282 NHL Games Played
- John Tavares: Former 1st Overall Pick, 11 straight 20-plus goal seasons in the NHL
- Mitch Marner: 291 Points in 300 NHL Games Played
- William Nylander: 31 goals, 59 Points in 68 NHL Games Played last season
- Jake Muzzin: Two-Time Stanley Cup Champion, top-pairing defenseman
Bottom 5 Salaries:
- Travis Boyd: Only played 85 career NHL games and has eight goals and 31 points
- Joe Thornton: Has made $109M in career salary and asked to sign for league minimum
- Jason Spezza: Has made $88M in career salary and signed league minimum to win a Stanley Cup in his hometown
- Nick Robertson: Never played a regular season game in NHL on Entry Level Contract
- Rasmus Sandin: Has played 28 NHL games and is on Entry Level Contract
I just don’t see how an argument can be made that the bottom-tiered players will divide the room. Every player on the Toronto Maple Leafs who make a lot of money deserve it and those who are making the lowest, are rookies or asked to sign a cheap deal.
Leafs media can continue to fabricate narratives so they can bash management for how they’re constructing a team, but I’ll continue to defend it. I know they haven’t won a Stanley Cup, but you wait. Happy days are ahead for the Toronto Maple Leafs and a salary gap won’t stop them.