Playing Hockey In Europe
OK this is the part many of you really want to know and I can just feel how eager you all are to find out how much cash you are going to be getting and how all the girls are going to love this new millionaire that has so much 'bling, bling' rolling down the streets in your new luxury car, drinking bottles of champagne in the old streets of Europe.
OK well if you couldn't get my sarcasm I was trying to lay it on pretty thick there so you might want to go bash your head against the wall a little bit to wake up because you are still dreaming. The pay in Europe with the exceptions of the very top leagues, (remember mostly NHL, and AHL players) pay very well and there are many players that get into the six figure salary, with car, apartment, and travel, but that is generally only in the top leagues.
The pay scale differs wildly in Europe from one country to another. I would say as a general rule Germany, Switzerland, and Austria are three of the better paying countries. This question is a really hard one to answer because of this wild difference. Many players that have posted on the forum have said they don't care what they make they just want to play and get the experience, but I will deal with that in the Expectations section.
I would say that a player with AHL experience is worth around $35,000 a year, which is the league minimum in the AHL. Someone with ECHL, UHL, CHL experience is worth around $2000 a month. Now you will notice that I used the word 'worth.' I did not say he would get that amount because it is possible that he will receive much more or much less depending on the league and the team. But I tried to establish a figure based on what players make on all teams which many of you know is very difficult to do when speaking generally about the whole of Europe.
With this pay most teams will provide an apartment, travel expenses and possibly a car. Again, these extras are depending on the team, league, and country. My advice to a young player is play for something you can live on for that first year, and after that you will know what you are worth and what you can get the next year if you desire to play there again.
For example, in the Netherlands players basically go there either to study or for a 'paid-vacation'. They get expenses paid, some pocket money and that's it. Usually they're living together with 2 or 3 players in one building owned by the club. Since national laws can forbid players from outside European Union to get a legal job (because they do not qualify to certain conditions) these players will spend most time either in the gym or at home (not on the ice cause ice time is a rare thing for hockey organisations in the not so great nations). Therefore it's easy to get on the wrong road and spend your time in bars etc. You can imagine many players are interested to play for Amsterdam, not just for the hockey...
So be well advised that every league is different and they vary a ton from one league to another. So before signing do some background research on the league/country's culture etc. It's be a pity if you feel awkward just a few weeks after your arrival just because the off-ice circumstances are far from ideal to you.
When you have done enough to convince the team to sign you it comes down to contract matters.
First of all: Sign the deal in English! The team can hold you in a bond for your transfer if you leave and they don't pay.
Furthermore it is normal that the team pays for accommodation, with or without other players, sticks, tape, skates, food 3 meals a day, a car.
Finally before a transfer can take place, an International Transfer Card needs to be verified. These Transfer Cards are the hard part for some teams. Make sure you sign with a team that can pay for your whole transfer card, so you won't be facing unpleasant financial surprises later on.