Monday, August 22, 2011

Don Meehan is the NHL's Jerry MaGuire

Don Meehan has management for the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Los Angeles Kings on pin and needles as both teams try to sign prize your defensemen Luke Schenn and Drew Doughty to contracts. With training camps opening in less than a month, there must be some nervous people out there. This is just part of the job for Don Meehan, the NHL reigning top player agent.

This summer has been busy but not out of the ordinary for Meehan. He also represented Ilya Bryzgalov, Brad Richards, Zach Parise and Steve Stamkos in contract negotiations. But he also represents Dion Phaneuf, Mike Richards, PK Subban, Ryan Smyth, Bobby Ryan, Chris Pronger, Niklas Lidstrom, Phil Kessel, and Mike Green. In fact his firm, Newport Sports Management, represents 100 NHL players.

Meehan earned his law degree at McGill University. After completing his law degree, Meehan was hired by the Toronto law firm, Blaney, Pasternak. Most of the cases he originally dealt with were corporate and tax-related. The firm also had some ice hockey players as clientele. Declining the offer of a partnership from his law firm, Meehan decided in 1981 to create his own company that focused on hockey players. That was about the time when I first met Don Meehan who happens to be a gentleman and reputable individual.

Instead of approaching players that are already in the NHL, Meehan approached the families of young talents before they were drafted by the NHL. Although it is often reported that his first client was Pat LaFontaine, that was not the case. LaFontaine was the first player represent by Meehan that became a star. He hired Meehan a few months before he was in the 1983 NHL Entry Draft. I remember that the first player he represented who played in the NHL was Chris Valentine. Valentine was taken in the 1981 NHL Entry Draft and only played 107 games in the NHL.

Meehan is quite a generous man and his 50th birthday celebration has been well documented. He took 120 friends on an all-expenses-paid week-long golf holiday to Scotland and Ireland. The guest list included a who’s who of hockey’s elite: Bobby Clarke, Bob Gainey, Scotty Bowman, Curtis Joseph, Wade Redden and Ryan Smyth, to name a few. The banquet on the final night was a production on par with the NHL awards gala, featuring Ron MacLean and Harry Neale as MCs and Michael Burgess belting out songs.

In 1994, Normand Lacombe accused his former agent, Don Meehan, of bilking him and his family out of $200,000 in failed real estate investments during his playing career. A number of other players also reported losing money. What was never fully reported was that at the time Meehan offered to refund every individual who had lost money in those real estate investments. He had to borrow millions to repay everyone.

He is a tough negotiator yet is able to include many NHL general managers as his friend. Don Meehan is a class act.

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