Bucks stop here

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:29 AM ET

It's nowhere near what they would normally be making but NHL players soon will start receiving cheques from the NHL Players' Association.

Players will get $10,000 US each for November and December, with further payments between $5,000 and $10,000 starting in January.

"It's not as though someone came out of the blue and said, 'Here's some money,'" Maple Leafs forward Darcy Tucker said. "We've been paying our union dues and now we're just getting back what we have paid (the union)."

There's no end to the lockout in sight and the belief among the majority of observers is that the NHL season will be cancelled fully in the next month or so. The NHLPA said the initial payment plan to its 730-plus members will cover the next 24 months.

"I think some guys will decline it or give it to younger players (who could use the money more)," said Tucker, whose 2004-05 salary would have been $2.1 million. "We've known about (a lockout)for years and everybody has been making (financial) plans."

During normal operations, players get paid only during the regular season -- 13 paycheques, two for each month and one for April since the schedule ends partway through.

The numbers would work out to a minimum of $40,000 and maximum of $60,000 per player through April, although the maximum would likely not be reached. That translates into a total of between $29.2 million and $43.8 million through April. During a span of 24 months, it would be a low of $94.9 million and a high of $175.2 million (from $130,000 to $240,000 per player).

The money comes from a pool saved up over the years from union dues and licensing fees, among other sources.

"As a result of the ongoing owners' lockout, the NHLPA executive committee has announced a player stipend plan which consists of an initial 24-month schedule and monthly payments for over 730 locked-out players," Ted Saskin, NHLPA senior director, said in a statement. "Each locked-out NHLPA member receives the same monthly payments."

The league would not comment.

"That's an internal union matter," Bill Daly, the NHL's executive vice-president and chief legal officer, said. "We have no reaction or comment."


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