Elite League

Players as pawns: Nottingham Panthers and Joe Grimaldi

D_GrhnPFLast Saturday night former Nottingham Panther Joe Grimaldi took to Twitter to air out his frustrations over the way he was treated by head coach Corey Nielson. Grimaldi accused Nielson of changing up his contract and badmouthing him to other clubs therefore ruining his chances of landing on another team. These tweets have since been deleted and Grimaldi has of course cited the age old excuse of being “hacked” by keyboard warriors.

Anyway, whether or not what Grimaldi is confessing is true is another story. I don’t know enough about him, Nielson or the Nottingham Panthers to give you a firm opinion on the matter. That being said, I know that it’s not out of the ordinary for coaches, GMs and Owners to sabotage the players hopes. So I don’t doubt that there some truth to his accusations.

In many teams and leagues around the world, some owners and general managers look at their players as pawns if you will. You are nothing more than a number to them. Hell, a dollar sign even. You can easily be replaced as there are countless numbers of players just waiting to take your spot. I’ve heard similar stories to Grimaldi’s from other players in different countries first hand from the players themselves. They don’t look out for what’s best for the player. Case in point, Mike Danton.

I’ll spare you the details but Mike Danton was treated extremely horrible in the most insane conditions in Kazakhstan. Actually, you can read his blog post about it here. Even after speaking with the club’s brass about it, nothing changed. We are speaking about Kazakhstan though so this story might be on the more extreme side of things. On the other side of the coin, I’ve heard nothing but great things about the New Zealand Ice Hockey League and the Australian Ice Hockey League.

As early as junior, players are looked at as a viable income to several owners. (Don’t get me wrong here, I’m not lumping every single one in the same fashion. I can name quite a few who treat their players like royalty.) The perfect example of this is the tragic case of Terry Trafford. The Saginaw Spirit is growing a hardened reputation of not being a very reputable organization to head into.

As we get into the semi-pro ranks, the tide continues to grow. Promises are not promises; wages don’t get dealt out or they get held back. I’m not talking about clubs who can’t seem to afford to play their players (that’s a whole other topic) but one’s who outright refuse to pay their players.

Hockey as a profession is luck of the draw. It’s hit or miss. Unless you know how to weasel and sly your way around, you might want to do some research before you sign that “big pay cheque”.

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