Mike Gillis raised a few eyebrows last month when he told Matt Sekeres at Team 1040 that Ryan Kesler, who underwent surgery following the season for the second straight year, might be ready by October. As unbelievable as it was that Kesler could somehow will himself back to health two months earlier than orginally projected, it was plenty believable that he’d return early anyway, without having done so. That is, after all, what he did last season. Thus, surprising as Gillis’s report was, it seemed eerily plausible.
But it wasn’t accurate, as Kesler’s agent Kurt Overhardt immediately made clea the following day. “It’s not happening,” Overhardt told Ben Kuzma at the Province. “[Kesler's] not ahead of schedule and there’s no rushing him back. He’s on course to return in December and he’s not returning until he’s 100 per cent. Don’t expect him until December.”
It was downright strange to see Overhardt refute the report so quickly and vehemently, but most simply chalked it up to what appeared to be a growing rift between Overhardt and Canucks management. It was, after all, the second time Overhardt had objected to a statement about Kesler this offseason: He stood up for his client back in May after Alain Vigneault suggested Kesler’s shoulder injury wasn’t an excuse for his step back last year. Perhaps Overhardt just couldn’t help but seize another opportunity to correct the Canucks’ front office?
We here at PITB, home of the Daniel Wagner effect, know that agents can be petty. But a recent memo circulated by the NHLPA makes me wonder if there isn’t more to it than that. A theory:
The NHLPA recently circulated a document titled “How does the lockout affect me?”, which we presume is just loaded with Clip Art, looking to prepare players for the impending work stoppage. One of the important points made is that injured players will still get paid, provided their injuries are properly documented. From USA Today:
“If you are unfit to play because of a hockey-related injury when a lockout begins, you are entitled to receive your salary until you are fit to play,” the memo said. “If you are currently injured, you should make sure that your condition is fully documented and that your club is aware of it. If you do not receive your salary payment when it becomes due, you should contact your agent and/or the NHLPA legal department immediately.”
As we all know, an agent’s job is to make sure his client gets paid. In the case of Kesler, that means making sure his injury, recovery time are fully documented and that all the necessary parties are aware of it and how much hockey he’d be missing if there were hockey to miss.
Unfortunately for Mike Gillis, this means that when he suggests that Kesler will be ready for October, even just a bluff, perhaps to make potential trade partners believe he doesn’t have a big hole at center if the season starts on time, Overhardt has to correct him.
If he doesn’t, there’s a possibility that Kesler could lose up two months in salary in a lockout like the rest of the healthy saps that weren’t lucky enough to need offseason surgery. And if that happens, Overhardt isn’t doing his job.Tags: injuries, kesler always comes back too soon, Ryan Kesler