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The NHLPA has hired RICHARD RODIER as a lawyer and economic consultant. The union also has hired COLIN A. CAMPBELL as Dir of Corporate Sponsorships and ROBERT DEGREGORY and MARIA DENNIS as Associate Counsels (NHLPA). The NATIONAL POST's Sean Fitz-Gerald writes Rodier's hiring "carries the faint scent of antagonism," as Rodier was the "man who led the charge against the league as a representative" for RIM co-CEO JIM BALSILLIE. It was Rodier "who often stood on the steps of that bankruptcy court in Phoenix two years ago, as Balsillie tried to pry the [Coyotes] from the league, and from the desert" (NATIONAL POST, 1/25). In Hamilton, Kevin McGran writes if NHLPA Exec Dir DONALD FEHR "wants to fire the first shot across the bow of the NHL in advance of the next round of collective bargaining negotiations, he couldn't have picked a better ally" than Rodier, the "biggest thorn in the side" of NHL Commissioner GARY BETTMAN since former NHLPA Exec Dir BOB GOODENOW. Rodier, who "will advise the NHLPA on league-related economic issues," has been described as an "agitator," a "tough negotiator" and a "henchman." He "rose to prominence as the right-hand man" to Balsillie "in his three failed attempts to buy an NHL team." They "first worked together to try to buy" the Penguins in '06, and Rodier was "again in the picture" when Balsillie pursued the Predators in '07. But the "coup de grace was Rodier's involvement in Balsillie's attempt to purchase the Phoenix Coyotes in bankruptcy court." Some believe that Rodier's "pit bull tactics are part of the reason the league rejected Balsillie as an owner" (Hamilton SPECTATOR, 1/25).
GMR Marketing has hired ALLEN BROOKS as VP/Int'l Client Management. Brooks, who previously served as VP/Olympic Marketing for SportsMark Management Group, will serve as GMR's co-lead on the Procter & Gamble Olympic marketing account, overseeing the agency's international Olympic account teams and host-city marketing activation (GMR)....Career Services & Entertainment President of Client Representation MOLLY FLETCHER has left the company to form her own firm, Fletcher Digital. The new company, based in Atlanta, will focus on digital marketing for athletes (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 1/24 issue).
EXECS: Golden Boy Promotions "will launch an international television sales department under its Ring TV brand this week," and the company has hired NASCAR Dir of Int'l Broadcasting ARACELI VILLEGAS to run the department (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 1/24 issue)....The Bills have promoted VP/Strategic Planning MARY OWEN to Exec VP/Strategic Planning (Bills)....FS West and Prime Ticket have hired LINDSAY AMSTUTZ as Dir of Marketing & On-Air Presentation (Fox Sports)....Padres Dir of Military Affairs JACK ENSCH is retiring from the team at the end of the month (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 1/24)....The Double-A Southern League Montgomery Biscuits have hired MARLA TERRANOVA VICKERS as GM. Former GM GREG RAUCH will stay with the team as President (AL.com, 1/19)....The AFL Arizona Rattlers have hired ZACH TRUTY as Dir of PR & Player Personnel. Truty previously served as Recruiting Coordinator for Eastern Michigan Univ. football (Rattlers)....The Atlantic League York Revolution have hired RYAN LONG as Stadium Operations Manager (THE DAILY).
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NBC Sports & Olympics Chair DICK EBERSOL has been awarded the Brandon Tartikoff Legacy Award, named for the late NBC President. Tartikoff in '89 "convinced network brass to bring Ebersol, who had become an independent producer, back to NBC to run the sports division, where he made an indelible mark." CBS News and Sports President SEAN MCMANUS said that it was "obvious early on that Ebersol was 'ambitious, very sharp and was going to have a major impact on whatever industry he chose to enter.'" NHL Commissioner GARY BETTMAN said of Ebersol, "He's very good at knowing the nuances and how best to tell the story. That's the unique touch that he has." BROADCASTING & CABLE's Jon Lafayette writes with Comcast making Ebersol Chair of the NBC Sports Group, there is "still plenty to look forward to from what he calls 'the best seat in the house, both literally and figuratively' in the world of unscripted drama" (BROADCASTING & CABLE, 1/24 issue).
Buzz McClain profiles Base Productions' Brenkus (l)
ON THEIR OWN: In Phoenix, Craig Harris reports the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl "no longer is relying on paid consultants to lobby politicians." The bowl, "which spent $1.6 million on lobbyists during the past decade to help at the Arizona Legislature, ended its relationship with two high-profile firms, Husk Partners and HighGround, on Jan. 13." Records show "no other lobbyists have been hired" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 1/25).
HONOR ROLL: The National Motorsports Press Association presented several awards over the weekend. Longtime PR rep DENNY DARNELL won the Ken Patterson Helping Others Award, Ford Racing Media Relations Manager DAN ZACHARIAS won the Joe Littlejohn Award for outstanding service to the NMPA and late NASCAR VP/Corporate Communications JIM HUNTER was awarded the Speedway Motorsports Spirit Award (THATSRACIN.com, 1/24)....ESPN has received two nominations for the GLAAD Media Awards. "OUTSIDE THE LINES" was nominated in the category for Outstanding TV Journalism (Newsmagazine) for "Katie Miller: Don't Ask, Don't Tell." The feature told the story of KATIE MILLER, who "left West Point last August because of the military's policy on homosexuality." ESPN also was nominated for an ESPN.com article by LZ GRANDERSON about U.S. figure skater JOHNNY WEIR (ESPN).
NAMES: Former USC RB STAFON JOHNSON yesterday filed a personal-injury lawsuit in L.A. Superior Court alleging that a USC strength and conditioning coach "negligently caused a weightlifting bar carrying 275 pounds to fall" on Johnson's neck. Johnson is seeking "unspecified damages" from USC and then-USC coach JAMIE YANCHAR (L.A. TIMES, 1/25)....Burton Snowboards was "thrown out of a ski-resort property" in Park City, Utah, during the ongoing Sundance Film Festival. Burton "had rented a five-bedroom home ... to host a VIP lounge," but the owners "weren't happy that a party was planned for Saturday night" (N.Y. POST, 1/25)....Jets QB MARK SANCHEZ and WR BRAYLON EDWARDS after Sunday's loss to the Steelers in the AFC Championship game "partied until early Monday at a New York club where they spent more than $2,500" (N.Y. POST, 1/25).