Columnist image

TSN Senior Hockey Reporter

| Archive

Correction: The Montreal Canadiens were incorrectly listed in this story among the teams whose coaching staffs are currently working on reduced pay. The Canadiens say they reinstated their coaches to full pay on Jan. 3, the day training camp opened. They were operating at a 20 per cent reduction from Oct. 1 through Jan. 2.


Hockey is back, but some National Hockey League coaches’ salaries have not returned to pre-pandemic levels with the start of the season.

According to data compiled by TSN, seven NHL coaching staffs are working on reduced salary this season – including the Edmonton Oilers, whose top-paid coaches have agreed to defer a quarter of their salary – pushing the total to 18 teams that have reduced pay at some point during the pandemic.

The Toronto Maple Leafs were the only Canadian club to not reduce staff pay. 

Six of the seven Canadian teams temporarily reduced pay; Calgary, Montreal, Ottawa, Vancouver and Winnipeg have all since restored coaches to full pay. The Oilers’ three highest-paid coaches agreed to a 25 per cent salary deferral, to eventually be repaid when fans return to the arena and revenues normalize.

The Senators initially attempted to cut coaching salaries in half at the onset of the pandemic, but the NHL intervened to help reinstate pay when the league began to ramp up play again in July with training camps, as previously reported by TSN in September.

The unusual precedent set when the league stepped in has left some coaches unhappy with the uneven playing field that now exists across the league. 

Players have consistency with their pay structure, taking a collectively negotiated 28 per cent reduction this season. But the same is not applicable to coaches, whose employment contracts are individually negotiated with their employer.

There have been no publicly reported pay reductions for coaching staffs in the NFL, MLB or NBA.

When asked, the NHL said on Thursday that no issue has been brought to their attention by coaches.

League employees are also operating on reduced pay. Sources said league employees were notified at a town hall meeting in early January to continue to expect a 25 per cent reduction for the duration of the 2020-21 season for employees earning more than $75,000.

Without fans in 29 of the NHL’s 31 arenas to start, the NHL is projecting roughly $2 billion in revenue for the 2020-21 season, after projecting to clear north of $5 billion last season before the pandemic hit in March.

Here is the list of NHL franchises whose hockey operations staff – including coaches – are currently operating at reduced pay, according to team and league sources:

Anaheim Ducks: A 20 per cent reduction for salaries of $75,000 to $250,000, increasing to 25 per cent reduction for salaries north of $250,000.

Columbus Blue Jackets: A 20 per cent reduction for all staff, effective Oct. 15, 2020.

Detroit Red Wings: A 20 per cent reduction for all staff over $75,000, effective Jan. 9 until July 1, 2021.

Edmonton Oilers: Top three coaches deferred 25 per cent, to be repaid in the future when fans return to arena. Remainder of coaching staff is back to full pay. For other team employees, 25 per cent reduction for salaries of $150,000 or more; 15 per cent reduction for salaries of $100,000 to $150,000; 10 per cent reduction for salaries under $100,000.

Los Angeles Kings: A 20 per cent deferral for all staff that will be repaid when fans return to Staples Center, effective Oct. 1, 2020; previous 20 per cent reduction prior to Sept. 30 will not be repaid.

Minnesota Wild: A 20 per cent reduction for all staff over $150,000, effective Sept. 1, 2020.

[Montreal Canadiens: A 20 per cent reduction from Oct. 1 through Jan. 2, when full salaries were reinstated.]

Nashville Predators: Operating at 2019-20 salary rate; Coaches forewent scheduled salary increases for the 2020-21 season until fans return to Bridgestone Arena rather than take a pay cut.

Contact Frank Seravalli on Twitter: @frank_seravalli