This past weekend I had the opportunity to attend the Sports Management Worldwide annual NHL Career Conference in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Attendees got the opportunity to hear from everyone involved in the hockey business from media to general managers and then attended the actual NHL Draft in Sunrise, Florida.
There were two agent panels, one was titled “Life of a NHL Agent which featured Rick Curran (Orr Hockey Group) and the other one was titled “The Player Agent Relationship” which featured Neil Glasberg (PBI Sports & Entertainment), Serge Payer (Unlimited Sports Management), Harkie Singh (Uptown Sports), and player Cameron Lizotte.
Curran gave attendees insight into his start in the business and how things have changed from then to now, for example there were maybe 8 agents and 4-5 of them did all of the business and now there are 150 certified agents and maybe 30-40 of them do all the business. He spoke about the evolution of the arbitration process for hockey players and how guaranteed contracts are the greatest things in hockey. He also spoke about how having a law degree isn’t essential to becoming a NHLPA agent because he doesn’t have one but education is important as well as building relationships, and gaining experience.
The second agent panel mirrored the first in which all panelists gave attendees their background story and how they broke into the industry most having played the sport and then switching to the business side. Lizotte is Singh’s client and they spoke about how they formed their relationship and Singh mentioned that when recruiting players his company, Uptown Sports don’t just look at how good the player is they look at the family background and who the player is as a person, they speak to coaches, teachers, and family members.
This conference was unique in the sense that it gave attendees a look at all sides of the business, we heard from agents, general managers, media, operations, scouts, etc. The best part of the conference was the fact that there wasn’t any preliminary set of questions for the panelists, majority of the questions asked from the attendees.