NHL Sports Agents: They Still Don't Get It...Or Do They?

Cory Ducey@@duceycoAnalyst IIISeptember 8, 2011

VANCOUVER, BC - JUNE 15:  Brad Marchand #63 of the Boston Bruins kisses the Stanley Cup after defeating the Vancouver Canucks in Game Seven of the 2011 NHL Stanley Cup Final at Rogers Arena on June 15, 2011 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The Boston Bruins defeated the Vancouver Canucks 4 to 0.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The one thing that really sticks in my craw since the dawn of millionaire players are sport agents...sometimes...

They are out to make money and in order to do that, they need to get top dollar for their clients, and I get that.

My example of this is Wade Arnott.  His company's NHL clients are players such as Phil Kessel, Zach Parise, Luke Shenn and Drew Doughty, all of which went through or are going through lengthy contracts negotiations.

To a fan, it is maddening that such contracts take so long to process.

If it isn't money, it's contract length. If not that, it is no-trade or movement clauses.  It's enough to make our heads swim.

Brad Marchand is on my radar because I am a Bruins fan.  We have seen the same thing with another client with Arnott in Phil Kessel.  The talks were long and painful for us to watch as he was an important cog in the wheel.  The result was Kessel going to Toronto.

The motivation?  Money.  Or so it seemed.  Everybody was screaming bloody murder regarding the deal as we watched the power play and offense suffer after losing one of our star offensive players.  But it wasn't simply money (although, I agree a large chunk of the reason was).

Kessel, for the most part, was a one-dimensional player that couldn't be sold on Bruins bench boss Claude Julien's defense-first system.  Face it.  It's no surprise that defense was the order of the day.  The Bruins are known for it.

During the 2009 playoffs, Kessel was benched by Julien because he was proving to be a defensive liability, and that seemed to wake him up a little.  Still, it probably did not sit well with the youngster, or Arnott.  At that time, he was a spry 21-year-old, but a good player for his age.

Arnott saw the opportunity to try to cash in on the Bruins, seeing that Kessel had a great year, posting 36 goals and 24 assists for 60 points.  This created a problem for Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli.  In the previous two seasons, he posted numbers not even close to that season.  Plus, he was a minus-12 and minus-six in those previous seasons.  During the 2008-2009 campaign, he was a plus-23.

The result of the trade put Kessel on a team that is currently not a contending team, his numbers are barely in the range of his last season with the Bruins and he watched on TV his former team of just two seasons ago do something that hockey kids all over the world dream of doing: Hoisting the Cup.  He could have possibly done this in his 23rd year, and there would most likely have been a chance to do the same and earn a ton of money in the process for many years to come.  Sure, it might not have happened had he been on the team, but one will never know because he is that good.

Back to the problem of the money demand.  The problem was that while he did post a great season, it was just one season.  There was no crystal ball to show that he can repeat such a performance.  To think that a youngster can command that kind of money on a Cup-contending team with the cap world in place is not only a bad sign of greed, but a sign that the agent doesn't care that his client will not have a good shot at the Cup.

To be fair, that's not his job.  Sure, it is supposed to be in the best interest in the players, but let's face it, if you are there to make money, and lots of it, your own best interest also comes into play.  Sure, the player can demand to get things done to their liking and the agent will do so when the player gets to that point or says, "Get it done or you're gone." But until then, they will play the game to their liking as long as they can.

That's what makes sports agents the crooks of the industry.  The movie Jerry Maguire was the epitome of sport agents and what lengths they will go to to make a living.

Some say that they are trying to compare James van Riemsdyk's deal, but keep in mind that the Flyers unloaded a huge amount of cash in Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, which was a total of about $100 million in salaries between the two and removed $10.75 million off in cap hits.

While the Bruins officially have about $7.6 million left, they also have center Marc Savard's approximate $4 million cap hit that is placed in the kitty as he has been officially been placed on the LTIR list for the entire season due to his concussion symptoms that seem to be nowhere near better.  That would put the cap hit for the Bruins at $12.6 million.

Again, that is a hefty cap space, seeing that they have all but one player signed for the upcoming season.  There are three RFAs and seven UFAs who are to be signed in the 2012-2013 season.

It's Chiarelli's dilemma, but not Arnott's problem.

Right now, Arnott just finished a huge deal for Parise, and he can now focus on Marchand.  Do I think a deal can be reached?  Absolutely.  Marchand stated he wants to return to Beantown and as long as he can tell that to Arnott to the point that it is clear, then a reasonable deal can develop where Marchand gets a serious raise and the Bruins will have cash on hand to deal with other players in the near future.

As a fan, I hate the fact that players and agents are haggling over a half a million or one year off on an agreeable number or years.  I hate the fact that agents will drag on negotiations over minor details or to keep it going to the point that they play chicken with a player's career and a team's future.

As a person, I understand that one must make a living.  In order to do that, they have to perform at their best to keep their clients in order to continue to do so.

 

This is Cory Ducey saying, "Hit Hard, But Keep It Clean."

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