Hockey Sports Agents

Rookie Duties: The Russian Connection

With just over a month until the 2010 NHL Draft, things around my office are starting to pick back up big time. To be honest, I can’t believe the Draft is only 31 days away.

My week began with a Monday afternoon lunch meeting with the coaching staff of the Chicago Steel. They wanted to give me some feedback on what they’ve been hearing from scouts as well as discuss Andrey’s plans for the upcoming season. It’s no secret that over the past few months, I’ve spent a lot of time and effort marketing Kuch to teams up in the Canadian Junior leagues.  But the Steel really want to make a push to win it all this season and they know that Kuchin’s the type of player that can make the difference between a championship and a early playoff exit. Overall, our meeting went very well.

The NHL scouts that have seen Kuchin play throughout his career know he’s got the physical tools to be an impact player at the NHL level. One issue that has made things a little sticky, and that I’ve had to work to take care of, is the unwarranted gossip that Andrey has an attitude problem. When you look at the situation as an outsider (i.e. a North American team), sure – it might appear as though there might be something there. Over the past few seasons, Kuchin’s had some trouble finding a long-term fit with a team. Add that to the common stereotype that Russian athletes are spoiled brats, and there might seem to be something at first glance. But to be honest, I don’t know where all the rumors came from, and my job over the past few months has been to dispel them.

One thing we discussed over lunch is how Kuchin returning to the Steel for the 2010-11 season could help improve his NHL Draft stock. His coaches there love him, and if he goes back to the team that helped get him back on the NHL map, maybe more scouts around the NHL will realize that he is a good kid that just wants to play hockey. I know that the Steel coaches think Andrey’s a great ki,d and if he were to commit to the Steel, I’m sure they’d be more than happy to help reassure clubs that this is a player with character. When it’s all said and done, the NHL team that picks Kuchin up in the Draft next month is going to determine where he skates in the Fall. But as an agent, I still have to get things in place so the NHL clubs will have an idea as to where their talent will be continuing to develop his game.

The Steel open camp June 11th and they want Andrey to skate with them beginning the 13th. I want him back in the States for the Draft anyway, and it’d be great for him to be out on the ice with his old team. Step one – get his Visa for entry back into the U.S.. Tuesday, I typed up a formal letter of invitation for Andrey’s Visa. Basically it’s just a description of when he needs to be here and why, all printed up on company letterhead. I emailed Kuch a PDF version of the signed letter and he’ll be using that when he appears at the Consulate for his Visa interview. Hopefully Andrey will get all his paperwork in within the next day or two so we can get that ball rolling.

It’s actually looking as though another one of Andrey’s Russian friends might be coming out for the Steel camp as well. It’d be a nice opportunity if the two get the chance to skate together next season, and obviously it’d be great if I could help the Steel out in any way. If things work out, both boys would be heading back to Moscow in July for a few weeks before main camp would open up. If that’s the case, I’ll be planning on heading back to Russia with the boys so I can meet with Vityaz GM Alex Zhamnov in person, and it sure wouldn’t be a bad place for me to spend my 26th birthday.

Another project I had to tackle last week was getting a good friend Mikhail Yakubov set up with a training program for a few weeks while he’s here in Chicago. Mike was a former 10th overall draft pick of the Chicago Blackhawks, and after playing a few seasons in North America, he decided to head back home to play in the KHL. Mike doesn’t have plans on coming back over to play anytime soon, but since he’s going to be here for vacation for most of July, he wants to stay in shape and add some bulk. Earlier in the Spring I had met up with some guys from the Academy of Human Performance. They train a number of athletes competing at the highest level in various sports and it seemed like it might be just what Mike was looking for. So Thursday afternoon Mike, Teddy, and I all headed out so Mike could see the facility for himself. It looks like he was just as impressed as I was, and he should begin his training June 3rd.  Kinda funny how the American kid from Chicago is quickly turning into the “Russian agent.” I’ve spent the last seven years of my life knowing this would be the best way for me to make my splash in the sport, but for those who haven’t known me that long, I’m sure it comes as a bit of a surprise.

This week I’ll be spending most of my time burning up the phone making calls to NHL clubs. Most teams completed their annual pre-draft meetings this past week, so it hopefully will be a good opportunity to hear what’s being said. I would also like to note that this past week fellow SAB contributor Dan Furey posted a great article on Kuchin. It turned out to be a great little piece and has been getting a lot of attention across the hockey world.

With more graduations this past weekend, I want to congratulate all my friends that have taken the plunge into the real world. Good luck to all of you that began bar prep this past week also – studying for the Bar Exam is a miserable experience but you’ll all get through it. I hope you all have a great week and until next Monday…it’s time to hit the showers.