Headline Hockey

Rookie Duties: Gearing Up for the 2010-11 Season

When I left you last time, I had just returned from the Sudbury Wolves 2010 Training Camp. Before I go any further, I want to thank all the members of the team and local media who I was fortunate enough to get to know during my stay in town. Specifically I’d like to thank President/GM Blaine Smith, Head Coach Trent Cull, Assistant Coach Jeff Beukeboom, Head Scout Norm Robert, Assistant GM Ken McKenzie, and owner Mark Burgess. The hospitality shown by the team was amazing, and I’m extremely excited to continue my professional relationship with them all. It was also great to meet Randy Pascal of, who flagged me down for an interview on Day 1 and proved to be a terrific guy throughout the week.

Since my return from Ontario, my two most immediate objectives to accomplish were to develop social networking sites for some of my Russian advisees and to “finalize” my travel schedule for the rest of 2010. Naturally I say “finalize” because I know that my plans rarely pan out as originally thought.

Now you might be wondering why amateur advisees of mine would need social networking sites at this point of their careers, so here’s a little explanation. First, when dealing with Russian players, it’s often difficult for them to connect with their fan base due to the obvious language barrier. As an agent or advisor, you always want your clients to be more marketable. In a time where fans utilize social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter as part of their daily routine, increasing a client’s popularity has never been easier. Second, having the user profiles now helps to protect the user names from being taken once the client hits the professional ranks. Finally, creating these accounts for specifically Russian players provides them with another opportunity to increase their grasp on the English language – something that, while not necessarily essential, teams place a premium on.

So after a few days of creating new email addresses, Facebook Fan Pages, and Twitter accounts, I’m happy to let you know that you can all follow along with three of my advisees, Andrey Kuchin, Alexander Denezhkin, and Semen Golikov, on both Facebook and Twitter. Right now I’ve uploaded some video and pictures of the boys on the ice and I’ve gotten them access to post their own daily updates. Hopefully they should be providing you with some entertaining information on what it’s like to be a Junior hockey player on the path towards he NHL. As I continue to develop sites for other clients, I’ll also be sure to post those updates to the Rookie Duties Facebook Page so you can follow along with their careers as well.

As I mentioned, another goal this past week was to finish putting together my schedule for the first couple months of the hockey season. Not every weekend is filled at this point, but it gives me a great starting point to build off of.

So for a quick look at what I’ve got coming up the next couple months, here’s what’s on my itinerary thus far:

Sept. 23rd – 26th: Sudbury Wolves opening weekend vs. Niagara and Ottawa (Sudbury, Ontario)

Oct. 3rd: Sudbury vs. Windsor Spitfires (Windsor, Ontario)

Oct. 8th-10th: Tim Horton’s Minor Midget AAA Tournament (Hamilton, Ontario)

Oct. 22nd-24th: Standing up in one of my best friend’s wedding (Chicago, IL)

Nov.  4th-7th: Bauer International Invite (Chicago, IL)

Nov. 12th-14th: ISA Company Meetings (Lake Forest, CA)

Nov. 28th: Sudbury Wolves vs. London Knights (London, Ontario)

There’s definitely a lot more travel on my plate than there was last year, but when your number of clients/advisees increase from one to nine and none of them are playing in your backyard, like Kuchin was last season, that’s bound to happen.  But hey, when I’m busy that usually tells me that things are heading in the right direction and you’ll be hearing no complaints from me.

Also this past week I had a little side project for a Russian (and former high-end NHL draft pick) friend who’s currently attending an NHL camp. He’s not a client of mine, and works with another agent, but he’s got a pretty solid shot of making the big club and asked me if I’d mind asking some scouts around the league what they’re hearing about him. His coaches had been giving him great reviews, so I told him not to worry about reviews from independent scouts but nevertheless, he wanted more feedback. While I never want a client or a friend to worry when there isn’t reason to, it is nice to see a kid care about his career this much (and most Russians do). I sent a few emails out to a few scouts I’m close with, and while they didn’t have any personal reports on him, they let me know they’d ask around their respective companies to see if someone else does. I always embrace opportunities to maintain an open line of communication between myself and the contacts I’ve made throughout the past year. Sure this isn’t an opportunity where I’m adding value to them, however letting them know that I’m looking to help out someone who isn’t even a client does show them something about my desire to help out others.  And who knows, if one of them ever wants some inside information about the player I’d mentioned, at least they know they can get in contact with him through myself.

This coming Thursday I’ll be back on the road and heading up to Sudbury again. Kuchin and the Wolves have their home opener on Friday and I’m always excited to be there for a client’s first game at playing at a new level. Before that though, I’ve got some calls and emails to make about a couple Russian kids looking to come play in the United States this year. None of the USHL teams have any openings for import players at the moment, but as the season progresses a few clubs are sure to make some changes. My job is to stay current with the progression of these teams and try to sell them on an upgrade at a needed position. Fortunately I’ve got the talent they want, now it’s just a matter of finding the right situation.

Also this week I’ve got some work translating my company’s representation agreement into Russian. Any clients we’ve had sign in the past have had no issue with signing the English version, but I have been asked for a Russian copy a couple of times and it couldn’t hurt to provide a few families with some peace of mind.

I apologize again for not keeping up with the old “every Monday” schedule for the column. Besides having the computer issues (which still haven’t been completely resolved), a few weeks ago I was approached with an opportunity to broaden the scope of the legal services I provide, and when I haven’t been working for my hockey clients, I’ve been handling some re-structuring of my legal practice to cut down overhead and increase profits. I’m not positive if I’ll be posting again this coming Monday, but at some point next week I will definitely provide you with a recap of the Sudbury Wolves opening weekend. I hope you all have a great week ahead of you and until next time…it’s time to hit the showers.