Kukla's Korner Hockey
by George Malik on 06/27/13 at 02:58 PM ET
The Edmonton Journal's Jim Matheson paid tribute to super-agent Don Baizley, who passed away last night due to lung cancer:
Don Baizley, who started in the agent business with two gifted Swedish players named Ulf Nilsson and Anders Hedberg in Winnipeg about 40 years ago, charging by the hour not a percentage as a lawyer, was the pro’s pro of agents. You will likely not find one agent or any NHL general manager who had a bad word to say about the straight-shooting, scrupuously honest Baizley, who sadly passed away Thursday of non-smoker’s lung cancer at 71.
In the game of hockey, he was behind the scenes very powerful, very influential, immensely well-liked by players, agents, general managers. Baizley never blew his own horn, but there was not a better man in our game.
“Universally respected in our business…whether you were competing with him or not. It wasn’t like other guys where I might want to run them over with my car. I’d actually swerve for Don,” laughed long-time agent Steve Bartlett, who represented Doug Weight among others. “For me, he was everything this business should be. He had great integrity.”
When Baizley talked, agents listened, GM’s listened. He didn’t try to snow general managers over how much his clients were worth. He was direct, to the point, no BS. He got deals done with little acrimony.
And when the agents got together, Baizley was the voice of reason. “Maybe we’d be having contentious agent meetings, or meeting over lockouts, and everybody would be talking but when Don spoke, everybody piped down. They’d be saying’ yeah, that makes sense.’ He was the level-headed, calm, unemotional, legal scholar who cut to t he chase on both sides of an issue,” said Bartlett, who said his best memory of Baizley was him talking of Nilsson and Hedberg, who played with Bobby Hull in Winnipeg.
“We were in Toronto and the two of us went out for a school of beers one night for about three hours, and Don talked about how he got into the agent business with Hedberg (on the Hockey Hall of Fame selection committee now) and Nilsson and the WHA and the NHL. A great night of stories,” said Bartlett.
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