SBJ/October 8-14, 2012/Labor and Agents

Meehan’s optimism for hockey negotiations goes unrewarded

Liz Mullen
Don Meehan, founder of Newport Sports Management, said that before talks began for a new NHL collective-bargaining agreement this summer he was hopeful a deal could be reached, more hopeful than he was before the 2004-05 NHL lockout.

“I felt comfortable that, at the end of the day, this time would be more productive and there would be a better chance at a resolution than during the last labor issue,” said Meehan, whose agency represents more than one-sixth of the players in the NHL.

Asked how he feels now, Meehan laughed and said, “I’d rather not say.”

The NHL locked players out last month after talks with the NHL Players’ Association failed to reach a new agreement. Meehan and the seven agents who work at Mississauga, Ontario-based Newport represent 130 of the 740 players in the NHL, including stars Steven Stamkos, Drew Doughty, Zach Parise and Jarome Iginla.

Meehan said that, although he hoped for the best, he was ready for the worst in this labor negotiation. “It’s not something that anyone looks forward to, but I have been around long enough to prepare for things,” he said. “We are fine at the firm. If it’s a whole year, it’s a whole year.”

As of last week, about 100 NHL players had committed to play in Europe while the labor talks continued. Newport represents five of those players: Nashville’s Patric Hornqvist, who agreed to play for Swiss team Red Ice; Winnipeg’s Evander Kane (Dinamo Minsk, of the KHL); Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson (Jokerit in Finland); Montreal’s Alexei Emelin (Kazan of the KHL); and Montreal’s Raphael Diaz (Zug in Switzerland).

Meehan said that if the lockout were to drag on, more players might sign overseas. While he did not disclose financial details of the deals, he said that outside of deals with the KHL and some other exceptions, players generally are not making a lot of money by playing in Europe.

“I think the players are concerned,” Meehan said. “They want to remain fit and they want to be ready when there is a resolution.”

> ESCROW CHECKS COMING: Although the NHL and NHLPA had not worked out the exact amount as of last week, locked-out NHL players will receive about 8 percent of their 2011-12 salaries sometime between Oct. 15 and Oct. 31, union and NHL sources said last week.

Players put 8.5 percent of their paychecks into the league’s escrow system last year, as called for by the CBA that expired Sept. 15. With the money being returned from escrow, they collectively are getting 57 percent of defined hockey-related revenue.

Players normally would receive their first paychecks of the new season Oct. 15, said Robert Raiola, a certified public accountant who does accounting work for several NHL players as head of the sports and entertainment practice for accounting firm Fazio, Mannuzza, Roche, Tankel, LaPilusa. In the absence of those paychecks because of the lockout, Raiola said, the escrow checks will be welcome to a lot of players.

> CAA SIGNS HAMILTON: CAA Sports has signed Denver Nuggets guard/forward Jordan Hamilton, who was the No. 26 overall selection in the 2011 NBA draft. He will be represented at CAA by a team of agents led by Ty Sullivan and Aaron Mintz. He was formerly represented by Premier Sports & Entertainment.

> VICTORINO DROPS ACES: Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Shane Victorino has left Aces Inc., where he was represented by brothers Sam and Seth Levinson. Victorino will be a free agent after the World Series. “We wish Shane all the best as he moves forward in life and in the game,” Seth Levinson said via email.

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


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