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THE NHL : Gretzky’s Contract Is Worth $22.3 Million Over 16 Years

Wayne Gretzky will earn $3 million next year--$1-million of it deferred--as part of a 16-year, $22.3-million deal.

Those figures were revealed by King owner Bruce McNall, who said that the later years of that deal may still be worked out by lawyers at a future date.

A list of NHL salaries, made public this week, has Mario Lemieux of the Pittsburgh Penguins at the top with a base salary of $2 million a year plus deferred payments.

Gretzky is listed second at $1.72 million for this season, the second of his eight-year contract. He will earn $2 million for each of the remaining years.

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But he also gets a million dollars in deferred money each season, to be paid during a second eight-year period after his contract expires. So although the contract is for eight years, it covers 16 years.

For example, he is making $2.72 million this season--$1.72 million now with the remaining million to be paid the year after his playing contract expires, or in the ninth year of the long-term arrangement.

Next season, he will receive $3 million--$2 million up front and an additional $1 million in the 10th year.

Mark Messier of the Edmonton Oilers is the only other millionaire in the NHL. The Oiler center earns $990,700 plus $42,800 in deferred payments. But that is in Canadian funds, worth at least 10% less than American money.

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Dave Taylor of the Kings is listed as earning $950,000 this season, with a base salary of $500,000 plus $450,000 in deferred payments. But King General Manager Rogie Vachon says that figure is inaccurate, that Taylor is not receiving deferred payments under his current contract and that he should be listed at $500,000. Taylor also has deferred money coming from a previous King contract.

Brett Hull of the St. Louis Blues, the league leader with 46 goals, is earning only $125,000 this year. That’s only 15th highest-paid player on the Blues. But it’s the final season of Hull’s four-year contract, and it’s a safe bet he will receive a hefty raise or move on.

The Kings have the highest payroll in the league at $7.46 million, counting only base salaries.

The Kings’ annual salaries:

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Wayne Gretzky: $1.72 million, plus $1 million in deferred money.

Larry Robinson: $550,000.

Dave Taylor: $500,000.

Tomas Sandstrom: $410,000.

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Luc Robitaille: $295,000.

John Tonelli: $290,000.

Kelly Hrudey: $280,000.

Steve Duchesne: $275,000.

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Tom Laidlaw: $260,000.

Mike Krushelnyski: $250,000.

Mikko Makela: $250,000.

Keith Crowder: $225,000.

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Steve Kasper: $225,000.

Marty McSorley: $220,000.

Tim Watters: $210,000.

Tony Granato: $190,000.

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Mike Allison: $175,000.

Mario Gosselin: $175,000.

Petr Prajsler: $175,000.

Jay Miller: $170,000.

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Brian Benning: $165,000.

Mikael Lindholm: $125,000.

Barry Beck: Between $100,000 and $400,000 depending on games played.

Todd Elik: $125,000.

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Bob Kudelski: $100,000.

Add salaries: Bob Goodenow, a lawyer/agent hired by the NHL Players Assn. to succeed Executive Director Alan Eagleson next year, thinks the public disclosure of salaries will prove advantageous.

“It puts us all on equal footing,” Goodenow said. “The owners compared information freely, and we never had the information.

“I think (NHL players) looked at baseball and saw that when the salaries were disclosed, it wasn’t such a horrific thing. They saw it could actually help them increase their salaries. All it can do is help.”

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Vachon sees it working both ways. “I think, at times, it could be good for players,” he said, “and, at times, it could be bad. It will wake up some guys.”

Owner Bruce McNall of the Kings is not worried.

“I know a lot of owners are concerned about salaries being released,” he said. “My personal opinion is that it is not necessarily to the player’s advantage. Often, a player will go to negotiate, and he and his agent hear that such and such is making a certain amount of money. They are often wrong, and wrong on the high side.”

Bernie’s bucks: Bernie Nicholls, acquired from the Kings in a trade 10 days ago, is listed as the top New York Ranger at $700,000. His base salary is actually $400,000 with the rest in deferred money. His annual salary is worth about $550,000.

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NHL President John Ziegler has ended the ban against former King coach Pat Quinn that was to extend to the start of training camp before the 1990-91 season.

On Dec. 24, 1986, while under contract to the Kings, Quinn signed an agreement to become president and general manager for the Vancouver Canucks effective June 1, 1987. Quinn said he felt he was legally clear to negotiate with the Canucks because the Kings had not offered him the position of general manager by Oct. 1, 1986.

Ziegler suspended Quinn from all coaching duties because he accepted a $100,000 signing bonus from Vancouver, but Quinn was free to become general manager.

“Approximately three years ago, with regard to Mr. Quinn’s signing by the Vancouver Canucks, the NHL took action which was deemed necessary to protect itself against any adverse public perception as to the integrity of the competition being presented,” Ziegler said in statement released Tuesday. “Harsh measures, in the form of suspension, were taken in order to preserve this integrity.

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“At all times prior to the incident and since the suspension was imposed, Mr. Quinn has discharged his club and league responsibilities in an honorable and exemplary fashion. Consequently, I am confident the single unfortunate episode which resulted in the measures taken by the league will hereafter be considered an aberration produced by various misunderstandings.”

The NHL president fined the Canucks $310,000 and the Kings $130,000 for their involvement. The fines were the maximum allowed by league bylaws.


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