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Volume 20 No. 46
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Marketer backs firm of former Orr recruiter

Canadian sports marketing and corporate consulting firm SDI Marketing has invested in ARC Sports Group, a new hockey representation firm founded by an agent who recruited NHL star clients for the Orr Hockey Group.

The Hurricanes’ Jeff Skinner is among the players that Darren Ferris recruited for Bobby Orr.
Darren Ferris formed ARC on Nov. 1, a few weeks after leaving Orr Hockey Group, where he worked for 16 years recruiting stars including Carolina Hurricanes center and 2011 Rookie of the Year Jeff Skinner.

Neither Ferris nor Andy Harkness, senior vice president of SDI, would reveal the ownership percentage in ARC held by SDI, which counts PepsiCo, MBNA and Rogers Corp. among its corporate consulting and sports marketing clients. Both ARC and SDI are based in Toronto.

Ferris, Harkness and Roy Roedger, SDI’s founder and CEO and a former Olympic hockey player for Germany, will serve as partners of ARC.

Harkness said that NHL players have approached SDI about representing them in the past. He has known Ferris for years, he said, and when Ferris told him he was leaving Orr Hockey, they started talking about a partnership and the deal came together quickly.

SDI “wanted a vehicle for their marketing to provide to players,” Ferris said. “It would be a good fit for them because of the opportunities they have with the corporate clients they deal with. If they have NHL player [clients], they may be able to parlay that into a marketing deal.”

It is not clear how many, if any, NHL players or prospects may follow Ferris from Orr Hockey, a Boston-based firm founded by NHL hall of famer Bobby Orr, to ARC.Ferris, who is an NHLPA-certified agent, served as the Orr agency’s top recruiter and helped the company land numerous NHL players including Nashville Predators defenseman Ryan Ellis, Edmonton Oilers left wing Taylor Hall and Ottawa Senators center Jason Spezza, as well as prospects Aaron Ekblad and Connor McDavid (see related story below).

NHL agent Rick Curran, a partner in Orr Hockey, said Ferris did “an outstanding job” of recruiting players for the company and was a big part of its success. But Curran said, “This wasn’t the case of a guy walking out the door and taking 10 to 15 NHL player clients with him.” Curran said he expects only a few Ontario Hockey League players, not including Ekblad or McDavid, to join Ferris at ARC.

Ferris said that was not correct but would not say how many or which players may join him at ARC. “You know how the process goes,” Ferris said. “Players decide who they want to be with. And that will be determined over time.”

Orr Hockey Group hired former NHL player Jeff Jackson to replace Ferris, Curran said.