Agents standing behind leader of hockey union A high-profile agent said he would not be comfortable assisting replacement players.

Posted: March 03, 2005

TORONTO — If the NHL lockout continues into next season and the owners use replacement players, those players may need replacement agents to represent them.

That was the consensus after yesterday's meeting between the agents and Bob Goodenow, executive director of the National Hockey League Players' Association, at the Westin Harbour Castle.

On Tuesday, commissioner Gary Bettman said the league plans on opening training camps in the fall. If there is no collective-bargaining agreement with the union, replacement players would be used.

While the possibility of using them wasn't discussed much during yesterday's meeting, it was a hot topic afterward.

When asked if he would represent replacement players, Rich Winter, a high-profile agent, was emphatic.

"No, never," he said. "I just wouldn't feel comfortable to represent a player in that context."

"To me, it's a hypothetical question that doesn't have any bearing in reality," Winter said, because "there isn't a player with even 10 percent of his intellect turned on who would do anything else but stay on the team."

In this instance, the team was the union.

Just like the players who met with Goodenow the day before, the agents came out unified, saying they backed Goodenow's work.

There were differences of opinion, however.

"I think what you saw today was there will be players who have opposing views, and when agents get in the room, they will have their own views and organizers of the players' association will have different views," said another high-profile agent, Don Meehan.

Nobody had answers on what would happen to players eligible for the draft, because until there is a collective-bargaining agreement, there will be no draft.

The person who could be affected the most is 17-year-old Sidney Crosby, who is among the most highly touted junior hockey players in recent history and who dominated the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

Crosby's agent, Patrick Brisson, said he was not sure what his client's options would be if the draft, scheduled for June 25-26 in Ottawa, was not held. Brisson said playing in Europe wasn't out of the question for Crosby next season. "It could be an option if there is no [NHL] season next year," the agent said.

Goodenow took the high road when asked to comment on the statement made by Ed Snider, the Flyers' chairman, at Tuesday's owners' meeting in New York. When it was suggested that Snider become part of the negotiations, he dismissed the subject while firing a salvo at Goodenow.

"I am very happy with my life as it is," Snider said, smiling. "I don't need aggravation from Bob Goodenow. I might jump over the table and choke him to death. That would not be good. That is why they keep me out of negotiations. I am a throwback to the old hockey days."

Goodenow calmly responded: "The last time Ed was at the table, we got an agreement, so maybe he should come back and we could serve up the issues."

Goodenow also said there was no formal policy on dealing with replacement players or agents who represent them. "If it becomes an issue, we will consider what the right thing will be to do," he said.

Contact staff writer Marc Narducci at 856-779-3225 or mnarducci@phillynews.com.

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