SBJ/April 16-22, 2012/Labor and Agents

Brisson lets clients know he’s with them, not Canadiens

Liz Mullen
Pat Brisson, co-head of CAA Hockey, grew up in Montreal, and like almost every kid there, that meant he grew up playing hockey. Brisson even made it to Quebec’s major junior league as a forward and got a few tryouts with the Montreal Canadiens, his favorite team growing up.

So when his name surfaced a few weeks ago as a reported candidate to replace fired Canadiens general manager Pierre Gauthier, it’s not a stretch to say the opening could be regarded as a dream job of a lifetime.

“I was a fan, as was every kid who grows up in Montreal,” Brisson said last week. “From an emotional standpoint, it is extremely flattering to hear your name in the media for this vacant position.”

“From an emotional standpoint, it is extremely flattering to hear your name in the media.”
Pat Brisson
CAA Hockey co-head,
on being linked to Canadiens’ general manager  job
Photo by: GETTY IMAGES
But not all dreams are meant to be reality.

“I moved to California over 20 years ago,” Brisson said, “and started a business of representing players that has grown to a level where we are extremely efficient at what we do.” Being the general manager of his hometown hockey team: “It’s not in the cards,” he said.

Brisson said he does not want to leave the practice he has built at CAA with co-head J.P. Barry — a group that represents about 65 NHL players — nor does he want to leave his player clients. Among those players (a star-laden group) are Pittsburgh centers Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, Los Angeles center Anze Kopitar, and Chicago centers Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews.

“I love what I do,” Brisson said. “I am attached to my players,” adding that he has had conversations with his clients about the Montreal reports and that they know where he stands.

Brisson’s name is one of several that’s been floated this month as reported general manager targets of the Canadiens. Brisson would not comment on any discussions he may have had with the club. “They want to keep everything confidential, and I respect that,” he said.

Brisson started in the agent business in 1992, working for pioneer sports agent Tom Reich and then becoming his partner in Reich’s NHL player practice, the former Reich, Brisson, Reich and Theofanous. In 2001, he joined IMG, where he became co-head of the hockey practice with Barry.

Brisson and Barry have been co-heads of CAA’s hockey player representation division since 2006.

Powerful agents in multiple sports have gone from the players’ side of the table to the owners’ side in the last decade or so, usually working as general managers in the last 10 years. In fact, when IMG hired Brisson to beef up its NHL practice in 2001, it was after Mike Barnett, who had run the agency’s hockey division, left for a job as general manager of the Phoenix Coyotes, which was then part-owned by Wayne Gretzky. Gretzky was Barnett’s and IMG’s client when he was a player.

“I grew up in Montreal, yes,” Brisson said, “but at the same time, CAA has built this tremendous business. The bottom line is I feel proud to have built this practice that I have at this point, and this is where I am focused.”

PRIORITY SIGNS NBA PROSPECTS: NFL and NBA player rep firm Priority Sports & Entertainment has signed a number of players for representation in the NBA draft, including St. Bonaventure power forward Andrew Nicholson. Priority also has signed Duke power forward/center Miles Plumlee, Purdue small forward Robbie Hummel, Northwestern small forward John Shurna and Nevada power forward Olek Czyz. Priority founder Mark Bartelstein and NBA player agent Brad Ames will represent the players.

LMM&P SIGNS LEVY: NFL player rep firm LMM&P Sports Management has signed Detroit Lions linebacker DeAndre Levy for representation. Agent Joe Panos — who last year was made partner in the agency that also features Ethan Lock, Eric Metz and Vance Malinovic — will represent Levy. He was formerly represented by Domann & Pittman.

Liz Mullen can be reached at lmullen@sportsbusinessjournal.com. Follow her on Twitter @SBJLizMullen.

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