Headline Hockey

Aiming For The Top! – Episode 5: Along Came February

This is an in depth weekly series that chronicles the quest of a boutique hockey agency, VSM Hockey, to reach the top of the NHL hockey agent world. Its story is narrated by its president and founder, Nikolaï Ray.

January, such a cold month! If you live in the north, you know what I am talking about. Waking up to the weather channel announcing minus 40 centigrade and hearing the beautiful weather lady say the dreadful words “wind chill”, “blizzard” and “frostbite” always brings chills to my spine. See, even though I am French Canadian, I grew up in sunny California. Ever since my family and I moved back to Canada in the mid 1990’s, I have always had trouble with January. It is probably a mix of lack of sunlight, cold blistering weather and training hard to make up all the Christmas meals that breed a fire of desire in me, leaving me dreaming of warm places. Anyway, I now have a trick. Obviously eating healthy and training consistently is the foundation of staying sane throughout the rough winter months. I now add in a super-dose of vitamin D every day and go to a tanning salon 1-2 times per week (according to research scientists, both of these techniques are beneficial to our health and maybe even essential). Athletes demand so much attention from people in our industry; don’t forget that if you do not take care of yourselves first and foremost, you will not be able to better serve your athletes.

Two and a half weeks ago, our young pro’ goalie had been recalled to his AHL team. Unfortunately for him, the AHL goalie he was replacing has recovered from his injuries faster than expected, so down goes our guy! I am telling you this in order to bring to your attention a situation that is fairly common in minor professional hockey. Since our guy was the starter of his CHL team, and has been called up to the AHL 3 times so far, his CHL team had to acquire another goalie. It happens that his other goalie previously played for the CHL coach and performed well for him. I am sure you can guess where this is going, right? You got it! Our boy comes down from the AHL and is told he will not be dressing, even though he has dominated throughout the season, despite being a rookie. I guess you cannot really blame the CHL coach and his team, it is very hard for lower level teams see their top guys go up and down, and as stability in a team is an important part of success. This situation is not really a huge problem, as our boy’s NHL team will find him a better situation if things are not cleared up here, but it is definitely a thorn in one’s behind! If you want to rep’ athletes, you must be ready for anything.

Apart from that, this week has been a fairly quiet one. We have spent most of our time planning, discussing and debating on future moves. Our head scout has come up with our master scouting list, rating the top 3 kids per region, per age group, from Saskatchewan all the way to Nova Scotia, Slovakia and Sweden. Our whole executive team will be at the Canada Games, in Halifax, in 2 weeks. There, we will have a chance to see the top 15 year olds of the country battle it out. We had two real productive meetings this week. One was with our head scout and the other with our chief agent. With our scout, we went through all the lists that he has come up with so far and are really trying to narrow it down to which players we want to approach. This scouting process is extremely important, and it allows us to move on to the next stage, the recruitment process. I feel that this is the harder of the two, because we must compete with many top agencies for certain players. Obviously, if you are a 15 year old, you will naturally be more inclined to sign with the agency that represents Sidney Crosby than a boutique agency only 3 years old. However, when we do our job properly and present ourselves and our agency to bright and thoughtful parents, we truly have a good shot at signing the kid. Our chief agent, Don MacAdam, is currently tracking 3 real hot prospects, whom we believe will be future NHL players; I will keep you updated on our progress with these kids and their parents.

Finally, I have received some emails from some of you reading my articles, and I am flattered. I am more than willing to offer advice to motivated and intelligent individuals such as yourselves, and I am always open to listening to offers when it comes to helping us out, so keep shooting away.

On a side note, I really think that the NHL all-star game is boring. I vote to keep the skills challenge, and to get rid of the all-star game. I think it is important to have a time to celebrate the league and its stars, but the game is such a yawner!

Until next time, stay strong and stay hungry…