Today’s interview is with Scott Norton of Norton Sports, former coach and player who is now agent to a number of hockey stars present and future.
Krys Barch is one of your clients and there are reports he as been resigned to a two year deal just before free agency. Between the two of you, you must have felt comfortable with the Stars despite rumors of financial difficulty. Did these rumors play a part in your negotiations or decision to assist Krys in resigning with the Stars?
Krys has not re-signed with the Stars. Talked re-opened, and we are optimistic that something can be done soon. The rumors of their financial situation has not played a role in Krys thinking at any time.
Krys Barch is one of the tougher players in the game, what’s he like off the ice?
Krys is as nice a guy off the ice as he is tough on the ice. Him and his wife have two little children, and he is a great family man who spends a lot of time with them.
The Montreal Canadiens bought out legendary enforcer George Laraque, and it appears teams see the role of enforcers as a whole is diminishing, does this play a part in the way you evaluate young players who might project strictly as an enforcer?
I think more and more you have to be able to skate and play the game. The one dimensional enforcer is becoming extinct, thus why a player like Krys who can really skate and play meaningful minutes is becoming so valuable to teams.
Matt Climie also currently Stars property has the uphill battle of securing a job in this very crowded goalie UFA class. How do you evaluate which teams might suit him best?
At this point, we are just biding our time with Matt until July 1 and Free Agency begins. Matt is an interesting prospect who we do not believe is even close to hitting his peak. Most of the goalies in the UFA class are nearing the end of their careers, Matt is just beginning his.
If you don’t feel Matt Climie is likely to get an NHL contract, how soon would you begin exploring offers overseas?
Through my Russian associate, we have been receiving interest in Matt for a while now. In the next week or two, I will have to sit down with Matt and weight out what situation is in his best interest for next season and moving forward.
For those of us who haven’t had the opportunity to see him play, can you describe Matt’s playing style?
Matt is a big, aggressive goalie. He uses a butterfly style like so many of the top goalies today, and he is very athletic. He handles the puck extremely well for a goalie, similar to Turco or Brodeur.
At what age do you begin to consider signing clients?
My target age has changed in the last few years. I used to have to go after the 15 and 16 year olds to try to get the best kids. Now, agents are approaching those players when they are 14, and sometimes even 13. That is just too young for me and my thought process. I have now targeted college players, and have become very successful working with guys like Climie who are college free agents. I run Norton Sports Management as a boutique agency where I pride myself on individual attention for each client.
Kevin Dallman former Bruin, Blue, & King is one of your clients and doing quite well in the KHL, does he have any desire to play in the NHL again?
Kevin and I talk all the time about this question. Kevin went over to the KHL a couple of seasons ago, and became a star. His game and confidence are back where they were when he played in Guelph (OHL) and was named Defenceman of the Year. I think Kevin would like to come back to the NHL at some point, and try to win a Stanley Cup.
If you have a client with unreasonable expectations of what they should be paid, how do you reshape their expectations?
That is a very difficult question. With any of my clients, I feel honesty is the ONLY policy. I am very straight forward whether it be my evaluation of a client’s play or at contract time. It is critical to an athlete’s career to realize who they are and what they need to do to get better.
Brent Sopel recently appeared in the Chicago Gay Pride parade with the Stanley Cup, was the perception of the sports worlds general homophobia a concern for any of the decision makers in having him there?
First of all, I want to say how proud I am of Brent and his wife Kelly. This was a huge decision for them, and really was a historic day. Brent and I spoke about this a couple of weeks ago when we came up with the idea, and we all agreed that every person deserves a chance in life. Brent and Kelly are extremely giving people having started their own charity “Angels get their Wings”,* and the parade was just another opportunity to give back to the city and the community.
What type of information do you have at hand about a given UFA client when discussing them with teams?
Having a background in hockey and coaching allows me to talk about clients both as players and commoditites, I know each of my clients thoroughly and come negotiation time, am prepared to discuss their last game, last season and/or whole careers.
Would you describe what July 1st is like from your perspective for readers?
July 1 is an exciting day for many, many players who have waited their careers to become unrestricted free agents. On the other side, July 1 can be the start of a very nerve racking time for players who are just hoping for another chance. Readers have to remember that most UFA’s do not get signed on July 1, and them and their families are waiting every hour to see where their lives will be going. It is an anxious time for a lot of families.
Any parting words?
Thank you for this opportunity to tell your readers more about myself and the wonderful people I have the good fortune of representing.
*Website under construction, stay tuned.