You’ve since become one of the most prominent agents in the game. When did you first start to feel things shift in that direction?
I honestly think why I started getting a profile in the game is that I was willing to stand up and speak for players and willing to do it publicly, if necessary. I never look for a fight, but you look to do what’s best for the players. It may happen once, it may never happen, but there comes a time where a player’s career is on the line. And they need to know, through their darkest days, that their agent is only concerned about their well-being, their success and the viability of the rest of their career. And will do anything. Will take any bullet.
I think there are a lot of agents out there in the past who were unwilling to do that because they didn’t want to rock the boat. If things got to a certain point, they were afraid that maybe teams wouldn’t want to work with them anymore — “How would that impact the rest of my business?”
I went about it and looked at every situation like, “This player, this client, has placed a sacred trust in me.” And if there’s nothing else left to do except fight for this player’s career — if you’ve exhausted every other option, and you have no other options left, and the player is asking you to fight for him, I’m willing to do that. And I think that over the course of years, whether it was Marc-Andre Fleury, who I started representing when he was 15, Martin Havlat, who I started representing at 17, Patrik Elias, who I represented for 15 years, Pascal Dupuis, who I represented for his entire career, you become family. And the level of trust they have in you, and the level of love you have for them, it’s powerful. It’s powerful to have that bond.
And I think it gives players motivation. I honestly believe players have more meaningful careers knowing there’s someone out there who believes in them, who’s thinking about them, who cares about them and is willing to fight for them if it ever came to that. And to me, that’s the essence of what it’s all about to represent a player.
Your willingness to defend your players online, and your Twitter presence in general, seems to be a key reason you’ve become such a well-known figure in the sport.
You know, back in 2008, being part of a large agency, there was a representative from Twitter who came to Octagon to speak to a group of agents about the platform. At the time, there were no smartphones, there was no Twitter app — it was going onto a desktop and typing “Twitter.com” and tweeting from the desktop.
I never in my wildest dreams thought that Twitter and social media would become what it has. But it really was at its nascent state when I started tweeting. I think I had 125 followers.
As Twitter grew, I started sharing my thoughts more. I always saw social media as a way to advocate for clients directly to the media and to the fans. That was my outlook when it started, and as it developed over the years, it became a way to express yourself. That’s really how I see it now. It’s a way to promote, it’s a way to express, and it’s a way to share.
You mentioned the hesitancy of others in the hockey world to speak out. Have you ever felt any pushback from the NHL for anything you’ve said?
The only people I care about are my clients. Everything I do will be in furtherance of my clients’ interest, and I really don’t care what other people think. I mean, I’ve been probably called over the years every name in the book — on social media, off social media. I really don’t care.
I don’t work for them. It’s not my job to please them. The only people I care about are my clients. Period.
How would you characterize your relationship with GMs around the league?
You create a level of trust in your daily interactions. I mean, I will never get off the phone with a GM and tweet anything about a private conversation. I think that’s out of bounds. I think you have an obligation to conduct yourself in a professional way, and I think that’s very important. There are many GMs who follow me on Twitter, and I’m well aware of it. And very often I’ll tweet something — not about them, not about their club, but just something, whether it’s a CBA issue or something to do with player safety or junior hockey. And within 10 seconds, a GM will be texting me, engaging in a discussion about the tweet.
GMs don’t tweet, but they have accounts. They follow various people around the hockey world, and I’m one of the people they follow. And many times there’s a discussion or a dialogue or a back-and-forth about something that I tweet — in a good way. But there are ground rules that I follow. I’m not going to tweet trade rumours. I’m never going to tweet something that a GM said to me in confidence. There’s a level of trust that exists, that, “I can say this on the phone to Allan, and I’m not going to worry about him tweeting about this 10 minutes later.”
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