Don't get me wrong. I like Mike Richards. A lot. But when news broke on Thursday that the Philadelphia Flyers signed their heart and soul player to a 12 year, 69 million dollar contract extension, I had to shake my head.
Now Richards will only be 34 when the contract ends, and if there ever was a sure bet to provide a solid return on that investment, it is Richards. But 12 years and $69 million are ridiculous numbers no matter who you are.
These big contracts always make me think back to players of the old days, who in many cases passed up higher paying "real" jobs in order to play the game that they love.
Case in point - Dinny Dinsmore.
Dinsmore was a spare player for the Montreal Maroons for three seasons from 1924-25 through 1926-27. He rarely saw ice time but did score 6 goals in 100 games and earned a Stanley Cup championship in 1926.
As you can imagine, hockey players in those days didn't make much money, and often quit in order to take on a better paying "real" job. That's exactly what Dinny did in 1927. He jumped at a lucrative offer to become a bond trader. Although he did some coaching in the Montreal senior leagues while he worked as a trader, Dinsmore missed playing the game of hockey terribly. So half way through the 1929-30 season he went back to Montreal Maroon management to inquire about getting his old job back.
The Maroons too were interested in Dinsmore's services. However the team was limited by a $35,000 salary budget in those days, and there was simply no money to spare. Dinsmore didn't care about the money though, and eventually signed a contract which paid him one dollar - ONE DOLLAR - for the remainder of the season. He played 9 games that year - that works out to 11 cents a game!
So there you have it - hockey's lowest paid player in history was just happy to be back on skates playing the game he loved. I wonder if Alexei Yashin knows about this story?
By the way, Dinsmore later returned to coaching, guiding Concordia University's hockey and football teams for most of the 1930s.