by Patrick Hoffman on 03/14/10 at 11:03 AM ET
I was lucky enough this weekend to do an e-mail interview with a hockey agent that is very much in the know when it comes to our sport - Jay Grossman.
Jay was kind enough to take time out of his extremely busy schedule and tell us about how he got into the game, what players he has represented, a little bit about his company as welel as some thoughts on how teams can succeed in this salary cap world.
PH: How did you get into hockey?
JG: I started representing NHL players when I joined Art Kaminsky’s firm, Athletes and Artists in 1985. I was referred to the firm by A and A clients Herb Brooks and 1984 US Olympic Coach Lou Vairo. I had worked for Herb for 2 years with the NY Rangers from 1983-85 while I was still an undergraduate at Union College. MSG President Sonny Werblin (a family friend, as my sister Leah was born at a Rangers’ playoff game in 1978) and GM Craig Patrick hired me and I developed the Rangers first video analysis program, which was in its infancy and something I had picked up from another great mentor in Roger Neilson, Captain Video. I worked for Roger when he coached the Canucks to the NHL finals against the NY Islanders and worked at his hockey schools for seven summers as well.
PH: Growing up, who was your favorite team/player?
JG: Growing up in the NY area the Rangers were the team to root for and my father was a long time season ticket holder. We moved to Long Island and I went to high school as a Ranger fan for the four years the Islanders won the Stanley Cup! I loved watching John Davidson and Phil Esposito lead the Rangers to the Cup Final in 1979 and some of my other favorite players from that time were of course, Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier, and Guy Lafleur, and it was hard not to admire Bobby Clarke.
PH: At what point in your life did you know that you wanted to be involved in hockey?
JG: I played hockey growing up in NYC in the shadow of the Joey and Brian Mullen, Bob Francis, Nick Fotiu. We had a great group of players I grew up with and a coach from then Czechoslavakia who exposed us to the European game in the mid-70’s. I went on to play for the late Charlie Morrison at Union College, but moved into a graduate asst. coaching role and also did video work there. I think it was many of the people I have mentioned that inspired me to pursue a position in the hockey industry. Moving from the on ice end to the business side to a pioneering agency was quite an experience and I feel very fortunate in that I have never prepared a resume and I have had one job that I greatly enjoy.
PH: What companies have you worked for as a hockey agent?
JG: Our firm has been one continuous operation since 1968 though we have been under several umbrellas: Athletes and Artists, The Marquee Group, SFX Sports a subsidiary of Clear Channel Communications and now PuckAgency LLC.
PH: Tell us abut your company, Puck Agency. What do you try to provide your clients?
JG: Having worked in several different forms, we have fused our group to offer the services and opportunities of a big firm with the attention to detail and personal service provided by a boutique organization. We provide a full service menu for all our clients including contract negotiations, financial investment advice, tax preparation and international tax expertise, immigration, house closings and routine legal advice along with marketing and promotions among many other efforts. We look at each client we maintain to provide concierge level service. Having worked with Michael Jordan at SFX, we aim to treat each client with the highest level of care and development of opportunity. Prior to the start of each season, we establish a game plan and series of objectives offering guidance based on our experience tailored to the unique nature and circumstances each player faces.
PH: Give us a brief list of the players you have represented.
JG: Over the years, Brian Leetch, Sergei Zubov, Nikolai Khabibulin, Ilya Kovalchuk, Pekka Rinne, Mikael Samuelsson and Anton Volchenkov amongst many others.
PH: In your opinion, what do NHL teams have to do in order to survive in a salary-cap world?
JG: The most important thing in the hard cap world is to make wise choices. This is not a GM friendly system and a few poor decisions can put a franchise in a dangerous and costly position. You must play for today and rebuild on the fly. There is no room for 5 year plans. Experience is key. Weak management has put more than a few NHL teams in jeopardy both on and off the ice.
PH: Which teams in the NHL provide the best model of the question above?
JG: It is still early in the history of the agreement to identify long term trends. Even some of the teams that have won Cups and have had on ice success have yet to prove they can maintain strength over the long haul. I do enjoy some of the teams who have been able to re-tool on the fly while maintaining competitive, entertaining on ice product.
PH: Any words of wisdom for readers here at Kukla’s Korner?
JG: One of the things I have enjoyed most delving into the advanced/social media world on behalf of our clients is how many passionate and knowledgeable people out there who really enjoy the game. This forum allows everyone to have a voice in the game and I encourage readers to use that voice in a constructive way.
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Patrick has a tremendous passion for hockey. Besides covering the Rangers and the NHL for Kukla's Korner, you can also find Patrick's work over at Sportsnet.ca, The Red Light District Hockey Blog, NHL Home Ice, and Liam Maguire's Ultimate Hockey web site.
Prior to writing for the above mentioned outlets, you could find Patrick's musings at hockey web sites/outlets such as TheHockeyNews.com, TheFourthPeriod.com, Spector's Hockey, Hokeja Vestnesis, Blueshirt Bulletin, SNYRangersBlog.com and many more.
For questions, comments and hip checks, feel free to e-mail Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org.