Newport Sports agent Pat Morris was on Toronto’s TSN 1050 on Monday morning, helping to promote the Smilezone Foundation.
There was, naturally – thankfully – a fair bit of hockey talk as well.
“These are a bit of the dog days,” said Morris of this mid-July timeline. “It goes right from free agency – if you’re not signed in those first five days, then it becomes a difficult process. You’re really waiting for the teams. The managers go on holidays. The scouts go on holidays. The players might as well stay on holidays for awhile until managers come around and the needs are addressed and looked at, and then they’ll come back and try and pick over the remaining players.
“So it’s a tough time, but in our business it goes right from free agency right into salary arbitration decisions on July 5th or 6th, and preparing for arbitration, which we’re doing now.”
Jamie Benn signed his eight-year, $76 million contract extension on Friday, which was another reminder of how rare it was that a young, high-level star like Steven Stamkos came so close to becoming an unrestricted free agent.
Stamkos is a client of Newport Sports.
“That was a very unique situation, and certainly, is that going to be a one-off? And guess what. He never got to July 1,” said Morris. “Very unique circumstance. I think every team with the ability to lock up a young player a year earlier – it’s going to be difficult for anybody to get there, because players like security in most cases. Unless it’s a complete individual’s thoughts or (the) dreams or goals of a player to play in a particular location, and then it’s a matter of does that location have the cap space.
The Stamkos situation was simply a rarity.
“I don’t know that we’ll see it too many times, if at all,” said Morris.
Was Morris with Stamkos during the free agent interview period meetings?
“Yes,” confirmed the agent.
When asked more specifically if he was in the meeting involving the Toronto Maple Leafs, Morris politely said, “I’m not going to talk about any meetings. He asked that to be private.”
There was then a fairly awkward attempt at mentioning to Morris the reported suggestion that the CEO for Canadian Tire was present for the Leafs’ meeting with Stamkos.
“All I will say for the record,” said Morris, “If there were any meetings, and if Canadian Tire was there, Canadian Tire owns Sport Chek, and Steven Stamkos has an existing deal with that company.”
A little later in the interview, a theoretical question was put forward to Morris.
Hypothetical: In two years, there’s a player who is an unrestricted free agent. The Toronto Maple Leafs, or another major market team, want him. Can you have sponsors in a meeting saying, ‘Okay, if you come to Toronto’ – and this is not brokered by the team – ‘if you come to Toronto, we will be very interested in sponsoring you to the tune of X.’
Can you do that?
“Well, the CBA has that covered off with arms-length transactions and market value transactions. So that should be possible,” said Morris.
That is certainly an interesting nugget of information to keep in mind moving forward.
Does Morris get calls on his high-profile players from sponsors in different cities who say, ‘Hey Pat, if your guy comes here we’re all over that. We would love to have him representing us.’
“We haven’t had calls of that nature,” said Morris, “But what we try and do – we have a full marketing staff at Newport, so we go out and we’re pro-active with various corporations in whatever city a player would play in or regionally, or try and cover off a national sponsor as well.”
Source: TSN 1050/ Transcript: Nichols