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Brisson’s Sour Grapes

By George Malik Pat "Baghdad" Brisson has a unique take on his client's lack of employment:
Anson Carter is unemployed, frustrated and disappointed, but he's not going to panic and sign an under-market deal, his agent said Wednesday. "We're not looking for him to get paid like a 50-goal scorer but, at the same time, he should be paid like a 25-30 goal scorer," Pat Brisson said from his office in Los Angeles. "He deserves a fair deal in the right environment. He will be patient."
"Anson is not looking for a home run," said Brisson. "If something happens in the next week, so be it. If not, he will wait. We're not going to panic and jump on anything. Some players aren't strong enough to go through this, but Anson has the backbone for it."
"Everyone thinks they are going to win the Stanley Cup this week," Brisson noted. "It's a little frustrating. It's disappointing more than anything. It's hurting his pride."
Is this called "taking the high ground"? Brisson's not lending Anson a hand by pounding the "poor Carter" angle into the ground. If I was a general manager (Ah, the power, the power! Ha ha ha...Oh, sorry...), I'm not sure I'd want to take on a "bruised ego" rehabilitation project, especially if that project had a $2.5 million price tag and a two-year commitment.

Spector, Kevin Allen, and other hockey writers have done a great job of explaining the anatomy of the bind Carter finds himself in.  He’s a hockey player with an exceptional IQ, but neither he nor anyone else knew that the NHL’s silliest season would bring an “everybody into the pool!” free agent spending mentality, or arbitration awards so outlandish that Pavel Datsyuk’s twist-the-Wings’-arms $3.9 million deal looks like a steal today.

Pat Brisson’s no dummy.  He and J.P. Barry purchased IMG hockey assets and aligned them with Creative Artists Agency, Hollywood talent’s mega-agency:

Some competitors don’t see why CAA made football its beachhead, and question how it will make money. There are no guaranteed contracts and 2% commissions are commonplace. In choosing sports where athletes wear cleats or skates, CAA can’t rely on lucrative shoe deals. That is why some believe that CAA next will get into basketball, tennis and golf.
Insiders say CAA has long been sold on the sports business, and that this infiltration was nine years in the making.
Over that time, CAA brass developed a strong relationship with IMG founder and sports marketing pioneer Mark McCormack. When he died, and IMG chief exec Peter Johnson was ousted, it triggered “key man” clauses that made free agents of Condon, Kremer and baseball’s Casey Close. CAA pounced.
IMG hockey heads Pat Brisson and J.P. Barry followed. IMG didn’t try hard to stop them, and detractors of CAA’s strategy say it’s because the on-field contracts game doesn’t turn enough profit. There may be some truth to that: McCormack used his client core to build lucrative televised sports events. CAA, by contrast, can’t own programming.

Maybe that’s the point.  Brisson may have made an educated guess, and sold Carter on becoming the “test case”—the biggest-name free agent who chose to wait out the early-July spend-fest and the nastiness of arbitration.  He gambled, assuming that Carter would cash in as the most attractive free agent for teams that’d either been shut out from UFAs, had to walk away from an arbitration award, or had simply chosen not to spend. 

Reality obviously didn’t turn out that way.  Regardless of your hockey expertise—and I’m assuming you’re brilliant—you’re lying if you claim you knew that Pavel Kubina and Daniel Briere would cash in $5 million-a-year deals from John Ferguson, Jr. and an arbitrator, respectively.  Pat “Baghdad” Brisson, the man who helped sprit Evgeni Malkin from Magnitogorsk, couldn’t forsee the twists and turns NHL teams’ finances would take as summer progressed.  Learning that “discretion is the better part of valor” in July tends to cause bettor’s remorse in September.

Filed in: NHL Talk, George James Malik, | KK Hockey | Permalink


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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

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