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Volume 21 No. 1
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A long relationship leads up to big deal for Suter, Sheehy

Liz Mullen
When Ryan Suter was 15 years old, agent Neil Sheehy told Suter’s uncle, Gary Suter, that the young player would be a top selection in an NHL draft years away.

“I called and said, ‘Gary, your nephew is going to be a top-10 pick,’” Sheehy recalled of that decade-old conversation last week. “I was a young guy in the business, but I said, ‘This kid is special.’”

Gary Suter and Sheehy were best friends, playing together as defensemen on the Calgary Flames team that went to the Stanley Cup Final in 1986. When it came time for Ryan Suter to pick an agent, he picked Sheehy.

Earlier this month, Suter, who became a free agent July 1 after seven seasons in Nashville, signed a 13-year, $98 million deal with the Minnesota Wild that Sheehy negotiated. This year’s other top NHL free agent, Zach Parise, who was a forward for the New Jersey Devils, signed an identical, 13-year, $98 million deal. Sheehy represented Parise for the first seven years of his career before Parise fired him and signed with agent Don Meehan, who did the deal.

“Ryan had offers well over 100 million [dollars], and there were teams that really wanted him and said, ‘We don’t want to go higher but we want the player,’” Sheehy said. He said multiple teams wanted to sign both players.

“It all came down to Ryan talking to Zach,” Sheehy said, noting that Suter called Parise on July 3. “They decided they wanted to play together after a three-day process that had been grueling for both.”

Suter loved Nashville and asked Parise whether he wanted to play there. Parise said no and asked Suter whether he wanted to play in New Jersey. In the end, they both decided they wanted to play in Minnesota for lifestyle reasons, Sheehy said. Parise is from Minnesota, and Suter, who is from Wisconsin, married a woman from Minnesota.
The Wild announced the signing of both players on July 4.

One reason Sheehy originally represented Parise is that he knew Parise’s father, former NHL player and coach J.P. Parise. When Zach Parise fired him about a year ago, there were no hard feelings, Sheehy said, and in fact, Sheehy took his former client out to dinner that same week.

“I am grateful for the seven years I represented him in the National Hockey League,” Sheehy said. “You never like losing players, but I am a guy that believes that everything happens for a reason. If I represented both of them, I don’t know if it would have come together the same way.”

DEADLINE FOR NFL FRANCHISE PLAYERS: Today is the deadline for NFL players who were assigned the franchise tag by their teams to sign multiyear contracts. New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees was one high-profile player being watched last week as the deadline approached.

The NFL Players Association earlier this month won a grievance against the NFL regarding Brees’ situation and the effect of Brees’ having been tagged when he was with San Diego. At issue was whether that previous tag should count if the Saints were to look to tag Brees again in 2013. That is important because the tag price goes up, to 144 percent of the player’s prior-year contract, the third time a player is tagged.

“It just clarifies an area that was unclear before and it just means that if a player gets franchised on one club and moves to another club, he doesn’t start over,” said Tom Condon, co-head of CAA Football and Brees’ agent. “It means the franchise number for 2013 has changed, and it’s higher.”

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