When Zach Parise and Ryan Suter agreed to terms with the Minnesota Wild for $98 million each on Independence Day, former Capital Alan May was more impressed by their signing bonuses.
Parise and Suter were given $25 million each just for signing their names on the line which is dotted, a number made even more staggering by May after he tweeted what things were like back in his day.
@JoeYerdonPHT my 1st NHL contract got $7500 signing bonus,$2500 more than I made my first year of pro. Milbury signed me,thought he was God
— Alan May (@MayHockeyCSN) July 4, 2012
May also revealed that after he signed his first NHL contract, he didn’t own a car and “thought I had cab money for life, first big purchase was tent w/4 walls & an INXS cassette.”
What was news to me, however, was that everybody’s favorite NBC commentator, Mike Milbury, was the guy who helped give the undrafted May a shot in the NHL. In fact, it ended up being a historic contract.
During the 1987-88 season, May played in 3 games for the Boston Bruins and 61 games for the American Hockey League’s Maine Mariners, where Milbury was head coach.
According to an August 9, 1991, Daily Press story by Javier Solano, May was the first East Coast Hockey League player ever to play in the NHL.
In 1986, the league was known as the Atlantic Coast Hockey League. It was a place for guys in their late 20s or early 30s who hoped to stretch their careers into paychecks for as long as they could. May signed with the Carolina Thunderbirds and planned to give his career one more shot before going back to school for his business degree.
He was the team’s youngest player competing in an often brutal league that commonly was associated with the movie “Slap Shot.” May wasn’t scared.
May accumulated 310 penalty minutes in 42 games with Carolina. He also scored 23 goals. Ron Hansis, now coaching the Erie Panthers of the ECHL, set him up with Springfield of the American Hockey League for the last three weeks of the season. He was signed by the Boston Bruins as a free agent the following year. May was the first to help dissolve the league’s image as a honky-tonk wasteland, unsafe for skilled players.
Since then, May and Milbury’s relationship has, uh, evolved as the two have both become prominent hockey analysts.
One of their most recent interactions came on November 29th when the two discussed the Capitals’ hiring of Dale Hunter on NHL Live, which the DC Sports Bog so wonderfully documented.
After Milbury dumped on Ovechkin and the two had a pretty intense back and forth, May challenged his former coach to a fight. “I’ll tell you what, I would love to, I would walk into that studio right now and fight you and Milbury and Jones with Dale Hunter by my side,” May said. “And I wouldn’t have to throw a punch, and we’d win the fight.”
This is true.
Anyways, we must all write thank you cards to both Zach Parise and Ryan Suter for inspiring May to tweet about how ridiculous their contracts are. Please keep them coming, Alan.