Why it’s so important that no one thinks Ryan Kesler is ahead of schedule

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.

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  1. g
    September 6, 2012

    New reader here, what is the Daniel Wagner effect? I know who he is but what is the effect?

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    • Daniel Wagner
      September 6, 2012

      The “Daniel Wagner Effect” was coined by player agent Ritch Winter to describe when journalists spend so much time with NHL coaches, GMs, and players that they become biased and cannot remain objective. It’s a profoundly inaccurate name for this effect (which I think is a legitimate concern), because I haven’t spent any time with NHL coaches, GMs, and players.

      Here’s the post where all of this happened: http://vansunsportsblogs.com/2012/01/31/daniel-wagner-responds-to-ritch-winters-response/

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    • J21 (@Jyrki21)
      September 7, 2012

      Note that in certain other British Columbian dialects, the “Daniel Wagner Effect” may also refer to altering a small detail of the past when time-travelling, thus unleashing a series of unpredictable, and often disastrous, changes into the course of world history.

      e.g. “I went back to the Cretaceous the other day, and accidentally broke a twig. Next thing I know, Pauline Marois is elected… in BC… as a two-headed man. The Daniel Wagner Effect strikes again!”

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  2. Collin
    September 7, 2012

    First. The pic in the title of this post has internet meme written all over it: “You mad at me bro?”

    Second. AV’s comments about Kesler’s injury not influencing his on-ice play are often portrayed in a negative manner. Like AV is being an ignorant dick to Kes the way he supposedly was to Hodgson regarding CoHo’s back injury. But, what hasn’t been realized is that we know that Kesler’s regression was somewhat due to no training camp and largely due to a change in deployment from the previous 41 goal season. AV is probably right that the shoulder injury was not an excuse, but he might not have wanted to explain to the media that it’s because of his unique and successful coaching/deployment style. Just AV being secretive.

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