The Oilers wrapped up their rookie tournament with a 4-3 loss to the San Jose Sharks, and now we will turn our focus to main camp and see if any of the rookies can make an impact.

Taylor Hall scored his first goal in an Oiler uniform, although it won’t count in the history books, it still caused quite a stir in the rink. Hall hadn’t done much in the first two periods last night, but he point shot made the final frame more exciting.
Hall is a quick learner. In the first period on a three-on-two rush, he was the trailer, took a drop pass from Magnus Paajarvi, and rather than one-time it, he hesitated for a moment and had his shot blocked. Two shifts later and virtually the exact same spot on the ice, he took another pass from Paajarvi on a three-on-two and one-timed it. He didn’t score, but Hall realized that he won’t have as much time as he did in junior.
After the game he talked about how the pace in this tourney was quicker than the OHL, and he expects the preseason to be even faster. It’s a learning process for him, but the kid is smart and I’m looking forward to see him play against NHL players.
Paajarvi scored his third of the tournament when he purposely banked it off a Shark defender and into the goal. Paajarvi looked the most NHL-ready of the big three. He is strong on the wall, and his speed is world class. I’ll be curious to see who Tom Renney plays him with. I’d try him with Ales Hemsky.
The best Oiler player in the tournament was Tyler Pitlick. He moved to RW last night and he still dominated. He isn’t afraid to deliver a check, and he rocked two Sharks on the same shift early in the first period. He kept the play alive on James Livingston’s goal, and he was a force all night. When the Medicine Hat Tigers come to Rexall Place to play the Oil Kings you can bet there will be a spike in attendance from curious Oiler fans.
Alex Plante left the game in the first period after taking a punch to the back of the head in a fight, but after the game he said he left because of back spasms. He grabbed the back of his head right after the fight, and I don’t doubt he had back spasms, but on the ice he looked like he’d had his bell rung. Plante was very good in tournament, and the Oilers will need a young D-man to emerge at some point in this re-build. He’ll play in the AHL this year, but he needs to become a regular next season.


Pre-season action starts on Monday and right now the NHL and their referees don’t have an agreement in place. The NHL has offered the refs a 17% raise spread out over the next four seasons. That seems like a reasonable offer, but the refs have countered with a ridiculous 39% increase over the same time frame.
I’m not sure why they feel they are worthy of an average 9.75% increase over the next four years? The NHL has had talks with some ECHL officials just in case they can’t come to an agreement by Monday. As of today, no officials have booked any travel plans for the preseason so the posturing will continue right up until Monday.
There are lots of young officials in the AHL who won’t become replacement officials, because they don’t want to risk being blackballed in the future.
The NHL can’t start the regular season with ECHL officials, but there is no way they will agree to a 39% increase. I’d expect an agreement to happen soon, but with teams finally showing a little fiscal restraint, I don’t see the NHL giving in to the referee’s demands.
  • The Real Scuba Steve

    @ Jason Gregor

    Any rumblings on the Souray front? He can’t be that toxic to be in the line up at the start of the season his stock needs to rise.

    • Jason Gregor

      Nothing now. It won’t happen right away. If something changes, and he is allowed back in the fold, it won’t happen for a week at least or more probably I’d bet.

    • Jason Gregor

      Steve I think I wrote that was the average. I didn’t say it was 9.75% every year…

      Entry level refs, who are fulltime NHL guys, make around 120,000 and some longterm veterans are making 250,000…They make more the more playoff games they do.

      And from what I was told the refs got a fairly big bump a few years back. I doubt they can expect to get that big of bump again…I’d bet we see them get around a 20% increase over four years.

  • Jason Gregor

    I can’t fathom a 40% increase for ANY paid position in the heart of a recession is justified, BUT I don’t know what the other numbers are.

    Unless they are making such a small amount they need to play “catch-up” on their salaries it seems crazy.

    Greggor – do you know what kind of pay they get? Or the other lower level refs for that matter.

  • 1manwolfpack

    Wait a sec. Isn’t a yearly raise of 8.6% more or less standard in any sort of union job, if not a bit low?

    17% over 4 years is actually a slap in the face. Let’s say you’re making $20/hr, and you work in a highly specialized field. After 4 years you’re making $23.40.

    I would be surprised if your average rigger doesn’t get a larger yearly raise.

    • Bawlf

      Without context, it’s hard to say. Really, you need to know what the pay level was, what inflation’s been, and some other details. I don’t think 8.6% per year is ever standard over any kind of term, though.

      I certainly agree that under some circumstances 17% over four years (which is, at least until I’m outvoted on this, almost exactly 4% per year) is insultingly low. But if the pay was fair to begin with, and inflation’s been 2% per year, than a raise of 4% per year might be more than fair.

      The other thing we need to know is whether this is the difference between a first year ref in 2010 and a first year ref in 2014 (which is how I’m reading it) or the difference between the same ref in those two years (i.e. one who has four years more experience in 2014 than in 2010), which seems to be how you’re reading it. Based only on what Gregor’s told us, we can’t know for sure.

      • I guess that’s fair. I didn’t read it your way. I just assumed the other because not a lot of refs enter the league in a year (if any).

        But, like you said, given that inflation has been between 1 and 3% over the last year or so 4% could be reasonable depending on what they’re currently being paid. Given that the disparity is so wide though, I’m betting that they’re underpaid by market terms currently (though who dictates the price of that market is beyond me) or assume that inflation will be shooting up within the next 4 years (which isn’t unlikely). Plus, I have no idea if these people get any benefits, and it’s possible that the supplied contract involves revocation of previous benefits (for example RSP matching) while also giving them a minor raise.

    • book¡e

      Well, maybe in some South American Country where there is massive inflation. Here wage hikes basically keep pace with inflation over the long run – otherwise they would actually start driving inflation.

      Edit: On second thought, thats not quite true – inflation is only one factor, but wages cannot really outstrip inflation by a lot in the long run unless some major technological changes increase productivity beyond what the normal pace has been.

    • I’m not overly familiar with these things, but I know our union recently OK’d a 3.5% increase per year for 2 years. From what I understand, that seems to be the norm (anything in he 3-5% range). I may be out to lunch on these details, but in any case, the referees are probably underpaid in the grand scheme of things… they probably deserve more than the standard increase. And really, what would the league do without the best (and without the second best) officials on the continent? Time to buck-up, NHL.

  • Herman_Munster

    There was no call for what happened to Plante last night. I realize fights happen every day in the NHL, and I enjoy watching them, but this was just a joke. He pulled Plante in, wrapped him up, tore his helmet off and slammed him. Let’s hope it was nothing but a sore back because it could have ended much, much worse.

  • Its next to impossible to determine if 39% is a fair settlement if you don’t know the starting wage. If someone made 10$/hr is 40% a large hard money increase in todays world?

    To bring inflation into the argument is only valid if the people under that contract are living above poverty or “working poor”.

    Its too bad you always read about union asking for more $$ all the time but never hear about the rest of the contract like work hours, pensions, benefits. Your wage is sometimes being raised at the expense of some of these other issues.

    Until someone produce the current contract no one is qualified to make judgment, in my opinion.

  • Jason, are you sure he got a punch to the back of the head? Just curious… cause it looked almost like he hit his head on the ice when he got tackled down to the ground. Gene was commenting how he thought he hit his head. But at the same when I had seen it, I didn’t think he DID hit his head. So I was just kind of wondering 😛

    • Jason Gregor

      The fight occured right in front of me. His head didn’t hit the ice when he went down. He did take a shot right in the back of the head though. He did grab the back of his head after, and that made it look like he did. He said his back got “tweaked”, but his head didn’t hit the ice when they fell down thankfully.

  • Nice math work, fellas! And since we’re playing with numbers; what do you figure her bra size is? And what would it be if there was an increase of 39% over four years?


  • Kodiak

    From what I’ve read, rookie refs earn $115k/yr and veteran refs $225k+. A 39% increase for the rookies would bump their salaries up to $160k and veterans up to $312k by year 4. Thats a pretty massive increase. I think most people making $115k/yr would be happy with a raise of $20k/yr (17%)over a 4 year period.

      • Forget what the dollar values are and how they correspond to quality of life. If I’m a ref (or part of the ref union) I’m looking at 3 things:

        a) How much revenue a game makes
        b) How much I’m living out of hotels
        c) How likely I am to get hit in the face with a very fast-moving puck.

        Realistically, I wouldn’t be looking at the rate of inflation, I’d be looking at the rate of revenue increase, along with some risk and travel pay in there.

        • Cru Jones

          I was in the AUPE and still work at a place where over half the people are in that union. From 2000 to 2008 the average wage increase was about 5% but in these economic times there was only a COLA increase last year and this year no increase is expected.

          I think refs (and linesman) should be paid well, it’s just a real bad time to ask for so much IMO.

  • According to the interwebs, NHL referees start at $115,000 and can make up to $220,000 after 15 years.

    So to make that money, they have to be the best in the business, and they spend basically the entire season on the road(70+ games), and have to put up with crap from fans/media.

    I’m not sure if they are overpaid or not. I don’t blame them for trying to get more money though. It won’t really affect the league at all so I am not too concerned either way.

    • Jason Gregor

      If the current refs aren’t on the ice to start the season, it will affect the league. No way the ECHL replacements would call the game as effectively and I think it would affect the game.

  • Jodes

    All I can say is Thank God The Ice Girl is Back!!!!

    39% increase?

    Can you imagine if Doctors, Nurses, Teachers or hell even Politicians demanded that much of an increase over 4 years? People would riot in the streets!

    I’m just glad that I’ve got somewhat good job security/contract until Aug of 2012, which the government promised us no cutbacks even if times got tough, plus yearly cost of living increases (2-3% adjustments). I know the government is kicking themselves now, but unless they want to be in breach of contract, they had to pay it.

    Not sure whats going to happen after 2012, if another 5 year deal will be signed or if it will go back to the older style two year labour agreements.

    Oh and any word on Plante? Is it a serious concussion?

  • Mike Modano's Dog

    I’m really curious about Plante’s condition as well. You can’t look at that and NOT think concussion, once again…and I feel really bad for him if that’s the case.

    I would really love this guy to be in the fold for us starting next year. He could really beef up our blue while doing it. At the same time now I am concerned that his career might end up being ‘over’ before it really began.

  • Cru Jones

    What’s the deal with the 6-hour open practice on Saturday? Isn’t that a bit long for a practice? Is it sad that I’m thinking of driving up from Calgary to watch a practice? How many times did I say practice? Practice?

  • I would like to see Paajarvi play with Cogliano and Hemsky. Eberle and Penner with Hall at centre. So does Gagner play third line centre? Or, Horcoff could always go back to his 1st line work with Hemsky and Paajarvi, leaving Cogliano Gagner and Brule on the third. Maybe, Paajarvi Gagner Hemsky then. That would leave Cogliano Horcoff Brule on the third.

    Whats the options for our fourth line?

    Gilbert Whitney

    Foster Smid

    Pechkam ?????

  • Jason Gregor

    The 5% figure included COLA (cost of living allowance for any who didn’t know and cares).

    It could be closer to 6%, I am guesstimating. Usuaully a 4% + 2%, 3% + 3% kind of deal. Obviously much less lately.

    And on another subject related to the article I am really pumped about Pitlick showing so well, seems he could be a steal at 31.

  • bdiddy78

    Whoa! Was this a mislabeled Lowetide post? All of this math and economics talk is getting me excited. For the record, both Gregor and Steve are correct, technically. Both 9.75% and 8.6% are averages, or means, of a 39% total increase over four years. The distinction is that 9.75% is the arithmetic mean and 8.6% is the geometric mean. Generally, for the purposes of comparison with say, the rate of inflation, the geometric mean is the more relevant number.

    As for the referees, I’m pretty sure that NHL refs make more money than anyone else does for officiating hockey games anywhere in the world. To ask for an 8.6% average increase in that wage over the next four years, when others are losing their jobs or taking wage freezes, makes them look like greedy pigs, in my opinion. On the other hand, the owners and players are even more greedy pigs when you consider that most of us would do anything we could to be in their position and get paid nothing.

    The bottom line is that unions always want more for their members and employers always want to pay as little as possible and, ultimately, the excess burden on the economy that either party receives is borne by the consumer, taxpayer, or in this case, the fans. The Oilers increased ticket prices yet again this year, despite a piss poor showing last year and most of us will still gladly pay because we are virtually addicted to the product i.e. there is a low elasticity of demand.

  • striatic

    the refs are certainly worth what they’re asking for.

    what they do requires a high degree of training and experience gathered over many years at low pay scales, increased possibility of injury, long spans on the road away from friends and family – all while serving as one of the more important lynchpins of a high revenue industry.

    if we surmise that the NHL game played with ECHL officials will be more frustrating and thus less entertaining to watch, obviously elite officials add to the entertainment value of the game. they should be compensated in accordance to the value they provide.

    the obviousness of the value they add is underlined by the league’s efforts to better the game through changes in the rules and officiating of the game.

    in a capitalist society, there is no such thing as a flat “fair” percentage wage increase. the only fairness is in being compensated relative to the overall value that you add, and if you’re being undervalued by 39%, you deserve a 39% increase.

    • bdiddy78

      And how would you suggest we calculate how much value the current officials add? Obviously if there were circumstances created by the current officials holding out and being replaced by ECHL officials, we would have some data to work with. But then how would we determine the value added by the ECHL officials vs. no officials at all? It may be an interesting idea for an experiment to play some games without officials but I don’t think the NHL would be willing to try it out.

  • striatic

    while on the subject of the on-ice officials .. i don’t understand why fans of the home team would boo the officials when they first skate out onto the ice before the game starts.

    alienating the officials is so counter-productive! instead, we ought to be buttering them up with applause in order to encourage more favourable calls!

  • bdiddy78

    I think the officials probably deserve the raise. They don’t make anywhere near the money the players do, but they work hard and they travel just as much as the players … and they’re on the ice longer.

    Nobody pays to see a referee call a game, but you’ve got to have them to run a game.

    Plus, if we want to develop and attract young officials in the minor-hockey, junior and minor-pro ranks, there should be some sort of financial light at the end of the tunnel for them – a chance to make some decent coin in the best league in the world.