Prior to the debate based upon nothing in reality about the Kings’ non-existent relocation to Kansas City, the most angst I felt and read on letsgokings.com bar none had to be O’Sullivan and his contract. It might now be fair to say the non-contract. Here we sit in the longest month of the off-season and still no deal or statement or legitimate progress report to be had. I am taking this opportunity for a heart to heart with O’Sullivan. I have no way to know or reason to believe he will read this. I am cool with that. Someone has to make the first move. I elect myself to verbalize my take on what he is doing right and wrong.
I am a huge believer in taking responsibility for who I am, what I say and the effect I have on others. Thanks to my best law professor, Loyola Law School’s Dan Schecter, he taught me how to think like a lawyer. That same thought process turned out to be a pretty great skill to apply to the rest of my life. Like it or not, what I do today effects my tomorrow, next year and in some cases my entire life. What I suspect O’Sullivan is missing is how he handles this contract just may affect his tenure with this team and by extension to the rest of his career.
Of the updates the Daily News provided on his contract, only one came directly from O’Sullivan personally. He had this to say after the World Championship this summer:
” I think that Dean is talking to my agent and they're in conversations. As far as how close it is, I don't really know. There's definitely been communication and I hope it's something that both sides can get done. It's a long summer, but with certain dates coming up, the further it goes I'm sure they will be talking and try to get something figured out.”
O’Sullivan on his contract status
I dug a little deeper than this sound byte to identify his agent. A lot can be learned about a player by the agent they choose. If you play baseball and you hire Scott Boras that makes a statement. It just does. Patrick chose Pat Morris. Here are some of the players Morris currently represents: Sean Avery, Todd Bertuzzi, Darren McCarty, Kirk Maltby, and Chris Pronger to name a few. Here is how Morris sells himself on the website of his agency, Newport Sports Management:
”Known as a tough negotiator, Pat has secured precedent setting contracts for players such as Chris Pronger, Steve Rucchin, David Legwand, Brad Richards, Mike Johnson, Mike Van Ryn, Derian Hatcher, Rob Zamuner and Chris Gratton to name a few.”
Pat Morris Clients and more
Who could have or would have guessed (not) that Morris would omit from his public bio that he fronts for Bertuzzi and Avery but I digress. Hammond called O’Sullivan’s agent in early July. Here is exactly how much success he had with that endeavor:
O'Sullivan's agent, Pat Morris, did not call back today. We'll keep a running count of how many days he doesn't return calls. This is Day 1.”
Day 1 waiting for Morris to call - July 7, 2008
To be fair, Hammond never publicly kept count again on speaking with Morris. Only he could say if he continued to call, and if he did when he gave up. Enough said on that one.
This is O’Sullivan’s chance to choose which way his career will go. He can go for ‘precedent setting’ contracts which may or may not bring him the career and life he wants. On the other hand, he can take control of this process and not relinquish total control to someone – anyone actually - that is not him. Khabibulin went for maximum dollars after he got his ring. He is richer but his career plunged to near oblivion. Anson Carter decided after one 30 goal season with the Sedin twins that he deserved more term and more dollars than the Canucks felt he earned. He spent the summer waiting for the last dollar. He got it and he also got his last year in the league. Seriously.
I have learned the hard way that my life is made by so much more than the dollars on my paycheck. I have worked in high power firms and sputtering firms and a lot in between. At some point, I had to figure out what I had to have, what I could not live with and everything in between. With that clarity, I now make better choices. Even better, I then appreciate the best about where I work and I suck up the rest. That is how I define personal and professional success or as I like to think of it, reality.
There are not that many teams after one, and let’s get real, only one NHL season, who declare a player to be part of their team’s core. Hextall and Lombardi spent this summer doing just that. O’Sullivan can pick up the blasted phone and make this contract happen…. Or not. Either way, whether he knows it or not, how this summer and this contract play out may very easily define the rest of his career.
This is a player who took control of his life, his personal safety and that of his family as a teenager when he exiled his father from his life. This was a brave step he made. I know from personal experience that standing up in the face of abuse is no small feat and against a parent near never happens. He did it anyway. If he can exercise that level of intestinal fortitude to ensure his safety and future personally, it is now similarly time to step up and man up professionally.
He can build a career with the Kings and his best friends, Kopitar and Brown. He can also chase the last dollar behind the coat tails of his precedent setting agent. The puck is in his hands. Period.