Well it’s been a very busy week for me, especially with my 9 Hockey Management situation with Jesse Schultz and the Braehead Clan. Jesse’s decision was very much a surprise to me, as well as Kirsty Longmuir, Jordan Krestanovich and Neil Black. Jesse has decided to join the Rapid City Rush who I would class as one of the best organisation’s in the Central Hockey League.
From the moment Milano Rossoblu decided to release Jesse, he’d made me aware he wanted to return to Rapid City after such a successful season during 2011/12. However at that time the Rush didn’t have a free roster spot so decided not to make a move. So I started talking to a number of European teams, Braehead confirmed their interest, terms were agreed and a contract was signed and returned.
Everything proceeded normally as they do in these situations, Jesse went through his visa application process and flights were booked. So when I received his email last week to say he was no longer joining the Clan, I was far from impressed.
Unfortunately in hockey business these things happen, however it’s how clubs and players manage them that is important. Jesse hadn’t advised me that he was negotiating directly with Rapid City, so that in theory can damage my relationship with Braehead. He’d committed to a contract with the Clan, they’d made a financial investment in him (visa, work permit, ITC, flight costs), rightly so they weren’t happy.
Even as an agent I believe it is imperative to stand by what is right, even if a client of mine is wrong! If a player has been ‘screwed’ by a club I would always stand by my client. However these situations work both ways, if a player ‘screws’ a club over, the club rightly should pursue this further and ask for compensation or even block the transfer through the relevant governing bodies.
At no time was the two week notice period invoked by Jesse that is standard in most British Elite League contracts. This obviously works well for clubs wanting to release guys, but at the same time plays straight into a players hand. In Europe the majority of teams would have to buy a player out of his contract if they wanted to release him or vice versa if a player wanted to leave a club he would possibly have to buy himself out of his contract.
I have no issue at all with Jesse joining Rapid City, they are a great organisation and a successful one at that, however ethics must come into matters such as these. I understand losing players while under contract is becoming more and more of an issue with for a number of European clubs and especially Central Hockey League clubs.
From discussions I’ve had this week we may see this escalated to the IIHF, Hockey Canada and USA Hockey for some sort of agreement or regulation. I do think it’s important going forward purely for players and clubs to understand where they stand plus to do’s and do not’s.
At the weekend I am heading to see Darlington FC take on Durham City AFC in the Ebac Northern League Division 1. Having been born in Darlington, I have always kept a lookout for their results during their days in League 2 and the Conference National.
However following relegation to the Conference North at the end of last season, the club went bankrupt due to varying financial constraints. A consortium was formed to buy the club with the hope of keeping them in the Conference North, however the Football Association took the decision to demote then four divisions to the Northern League.
When the opportunity came up to invest in the club through the Community Interest Company that had been setup, it was an opportunity I felt 9gc couldn’t pass up. We’d previously invested money in Conference National club, Ebbsfleet United, but the opportunity to do something ‘closer to home’ was something I decided to pursue.
Darlington 1883 FC, as they are now officially know as, are currently top of the Ebac Northern League Division 1 four points ahead of Spennymoor Town as they look to get promoted to the Evo-Stick Northern Premier League Division One North at the first attempt.
If you’re around the Durham area on Saturday, get down to New Ferens Park for 3.00pm to see Darlington take on Durham City.