Shortly after the final siren to tonight's game, as disappointed Habs fans were 'licking their wounds', Twitter users read the following message:
"Interesting stat of the night....Price is 10W, 32L in last 42 starts. Hmm."
There was a fair bit of blame to go around for the loss, but this one couldn't be pinned on Price. But this is Montreal, and with no shortage of Price-haters, the "interesting stat" began to be re-tweeted.
Unknown to many Twitter users was that the source of the original message was none other than Allan Walsh, player agent for Jaroslav Halak. Walsh isn't exactly an objective source or a disinterested party.
I decided to reply to one user who had re-tweeted Walsh's original message and copied it to Walsh. My message set off a short back and forth between Walsh and I.
All Habs: "Not exactly an objective source. That stat came from Halak's agent. Advocacy like that leaves a bad taste in my mouth. @walsha"
Walsh: "Sorry you don't like the stat, if the stat was wrong, you may have a point..I was pointing out an interesting stat for fans."
All Habs: "I think we both know what the intent was. I would prefer seeing you present to fans, stats for your own client."
Walsh: "It's no secret who my client is....and very relevant stat as it relates to my client."
The Twitter conversation was monitored by Jeff Marek at Hockey Night in Canada. He raised it during the Coast to Coast segment during the first intermission of the Calgary Flames-New York Rangers game.
Walsh's comments struck a nerve with HNIC's Kelly Hrudey.
Hrudey jumped on Walsh's comments saying, “It makes me sick. I hate it and I’ll tell you why. I have no problem with an agent sticking up for his client and telling management and whomever that this is what I think about my guy, the team and the direction and all that, but to make that public really annoys me."
Hrudey continued, "If I’m Carey Price, that’s already starting a fight between me and the other guy. I would actually go to the goalie the next day and say ‘You know what? Tell your agent to shut up!’
"You know what, we have to work together in this whole thing and we do need competition and we have to battle through this but don't start doing that. Don't pit us against each other. Don't make a separation between the two of us that are in this together. That annoys me!”
Ron MacLean added,"It's a good point about the feud he's beginning without really knowing it."
I don't object to player agents advocating on behalf of their clients. It's their job. Whether they should be making a case to an NHL general manager rather than trying to shift public opinion is up for debate. But what I really object to is Walsh posting disparaging statistics about another player in order to indirectly promote his client. And it was done in a way that many fans would not recognize it was coming from the Halak camp.
Now Walsh is a self-described Sports Agent/Lawyer so a glib remark might be that its unrealistic to expect ethical behaviour. But I prefer to believe otherwise. In my opinion, it is outrageous to trash a client's teammate in public. It's also very unprofessional. Walsh was out of line trying to turn fans against Price in order to promote Halak's standing.
As Hrudey said, it could also ignite a dressing room controversy between Halak and Price. Is Walsh really trying to pit the two against each other?
It's not in Halak's best interest to have an agent who is creating drama. Jaro should be reigning Walsh in.
After the segment aired on CBC, Walsh sent the following Twitter message to Marek:
"It was a tongue in cheek comment not meant to be taken seriously, forgot it was Montreal and everyone loses a sense of humor."
So within the time period of a few hours, Walsh's description of his original message went from a "very relevant stat as it relates to my client" to essentially, a joke. And according to Walsh, it was the kind of joke that was lost on the citizens of Montreal.
Dave Stubbs, of Habs Inside/Out replied to Walsh on Twitter:
"Allan, Habs goaltending is NEVER a laughing matter, hasn't been since the days of Georges Vezina."
Stubbs is right. This is Montreal. Everything hockey-related is taken seriously. Walsh should and does know better. He knew exactly what he was doing. He is well aware that people are ready to pounce on any goalie controversy in this city.
But by doing it in a public way, Walsh wasn't doing his client any favors. This will hurt Halak in the end. I don't expect that his underhanded techniques are going to be good for business either.
After a Canadiens loss where goaltending was not to blame, Walsh's low maneuver was rather unwelcome. The last thing the Habs need is someone stirring up controversy for selfish reasons.