THE PIPELINE SHOW: WHL Commissioner Ron Robinson & Player Agent Gerry Johanson
This week on The Pipeline Show, we do another deep dive into one of the leagues regularly covered by the program. Plus, ever wonder what it’s like to be a player agent or how to become one yourself?
WHL Commissioner Ron Robison
Continuing with this summer’s closer exploration of various junior leagues in North America, we head to Calgary and the home office of the Western Hockey League. Ron Robison is the Commissioner of the WHL and a frequent guest on The Pipeline Show but this time around we tried to look at the league from a newcomer’s perspective in mind.
We began our conversation looking back at some of the high points of the past season for the WHL which included the fantastic playoff performances from many teams including a 7-game final eventually settled in overtime.
That led into a conversation about the league’s expanded efforts on social media and the importance of the WHL’s exposure online considering the lack of a regional TV package. The prospects of a new TV deal were discussed as well as the cost of WHL Live for internet broadcasts. What about a free Game of the Week?
Also on the agenda: His overall role as the Commissioner, the effect of the league’s rollback of regular season games last year, how to attract more American players to fill 22 rosters, the ins and outs of the WHL scholarship package and what is and isn’t allowed to be offered by teams when recruiting players.
Big news for the WHL this coming season is the relocation of the Kootenay Ice to Winnipeg and that club’s subsequent signing of 15-year-old star Matthew Savoie. We talked about Savoie’s expected participation at length including the rumoured plans that could see him play upwards of 50 games instead of the normal 5-10.
Along the way we also discussed the CHL Import Draft and how the three leagues all try to maintain that procedures are all “above board” and what would happen should a team circumvent the rules.
The topic of the lawsuit against the CHL came up and I asked the Commissioner what the league’s motivation was for adding the giant, bright green banner to the league website detailing the lawsuit.
Lastly, we looked ahead at the coming year, another season when the WHL will be in the spotlight as the Kelowna Rockets host the Memorial Cup.
Player Agent Gerry Johannson
Quite often I get asked questions from fans like, “how do I become a scout?”, “what’s it like being a GM” or “can anyone become an agent?” Not being any of those things, the easiest way for me to answer questions like that is to redirect them to someone that would actually know. This week I called on Gerry Johannson who heads up The Sports Corporation which represents many of the biggest hockey names on the planet to get those answers.
I began with what the off-season is like for a player rep and how it might be the opposite to everyone else – the summer is actually the hectic busy season. Then we got into Gerry’s background and the path that he took to become a player agent. I mentioned a few of the well-known names he represents and the common thread that connects guys like Carey Price, Colton Parayko and Braden Holtby; terrific players but even better people.
From there we covered subjects like the CHL vs the NCAA and why neither is the right answer for every player, the CHL scholarship package, what happens for players after their junior careers, what ages he starts getting involved with players and their families and what costs are involved.
I also wanted to know about the challenges of the job as most people look at player agents with envy without considering the tough side.
Lastly, I wanted the agent perspective on the ongoing class-action lawsuit filed against the Canadian Hockey League and Gerry shared his opinion on the matter.