The colors of money in professional sport

There is a number that, apparently, still does not sink in with Quebecers caught in the throat by inflation: seven million. A sort of advance on the small 600 million (minimum) that the return of the Nordiques to Quebec will cost, where the team already has its mascot, Éric “Badaboum” Girard, who incidentally occupies a position at the local Ministry of Finance .

Seven million, however, is less than the annual salary of just one of the little guys who, next October, will come to play these famous exhibition matches in the Old Capital. The remuneration of Pierre-Luc Dubois, recently acquired by the Kings, will then be 8.5 million per year, under an eight-year contract intended to enrich him, in total, by 68 million US dollars.

Doesn’t that leave you a little dreamy, does it? At 25, Dubois is still green. He’s not a 50-goal scorer, or even a 40-goal scorer. In fact, this forward hasn’t even had a 30-goal season in the National Hockey League (NHL) yet! At the time of writing, with 11 points in 20 games and a differential of “+1” (sic), one would look in vain for his name on the list of the 50, or even the 100 best scorers in the league.

I hear you protest: he must have defensive qualities, be one of those hockey players who are capable of playing — yes, yes — “on both sides of the ice”. In fact, at the time when Habs fans saw Dubois in their pea soup, scribes much more competent than Bibi had pointed out that his “advanced statistics” (ah, advanced stats…) made him a defensive attacker “ effective “. But at 8.5 million per year? This is approximately the salary received, at the time of his retirement, the great Patrice Bergeron, the best specialist of his time in the field.

And Pierre-Luc Dubois is the perfect antithesis of Bergeron: a mercenary, the type to demand an exchange when things don’t go his way. This is how his previous stays in the ornaments of North American civilization, Columbus and Winnipeg, ended. But above all, unlike his teammate Philippe Danault, a key element of the “glorious march towards the 2021 spring cup”, who earns, in Los Angeles, a measly 2.25 million per year, Dubois still has everything , absolutely everything to prove in the major leagues.

I am therefore forced to believe that, like these object-men whom we love for their bodies, our Dubois became a multimillionaire because he measured 6 feet 4 inches and weighed 102 kilos. Now, being loved for one’s body, I know something about it, can be a source of distress.

Asked by THE Montreal Journal on his period of acclimatization to the palm trees of California, Dubois replied: “There are good matches and not so good matches. There are matches where I think a little too much. It slows me down in my decisions. I’m not the player I want to be. But there are matches where I find it more fluid. I think less and I think less about the system. When I play like that, I play like the real me. »

And I sometimes, even without having ever seen him in action, get bored of the few words and the fire in the Rocket’s eyes.

One thing is certain, the former Winnipeg Jets did well to avoid ending up in Montreal. In addition to hitting our exorbitant tax rate, he would have experienced the same ordeal under pressure and the same psychoanalysis through the media as Jonathan Drouin, who, with his 6 points in 19 games in Denver, failing to meet expectations , also died of laughter at 5.5 million per year.

But it’s okay, that we are “pushing to puck » or political leader, vulnerability is in fashion and we should not make fun of men who express their emotions. It may even happen that their moods find an echo in collective existence. I am one of those who jumped for joy while listening again and again to the famous Gray Cup rant on which the writers of the bye, and there is Dequoy! A sportsman who says something!

It has often happened to me, including in these pages, to make fun of the Canadian Football League (CFL), of its folkloric, not to say rural, character, with its unsaleable rule book and its structures of good big spindle to hay. The 2023 Alouettes, and in particular their emotional marauder, first accomplished the feat of reconciling me with the former supporter of the great team of Sonny Wade, Junior Ah You (that name!) and Peter Dalla Riva who, in me, had died of boredom somewhere during the 1980s and the pitiful adventure of the Montreal Concordes.

Better yet, the beautiful tape assembled by Danny Maciocia forces me to look at this unloved Canadian football with another eye. Week after week, like thousands of other Quebec viewers, I am buried under the infernal advertising hype of the gigantic money-generating machine that the American NFL has become. Like these porn films where the semblance of plot exists only to serve as a link between the explicit scenes, we have more and more the impression that the real mission of these constantly interrupted game sequences, over there on the field, is to bridge the countless commercial breaks.

I watch the CFL. Average salary: 105,000 Canadian dollars. Enough to pay for groceries and monthly payments pickup, while keeping away the temptation to take yourself for someone else. Less than a deputy, more than a striker. Color bearer of a nation.

If voluntary simplicity has a future in professional sport, it can only be in Canadian football. As in the heyday of Flannel, we now have our cohort of French speakers and low-income earners, and a hunger for victories.

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