Photo: Rab Bethan.
As every businessman knows, a satisfied customer is the best promotion. Presently, Michael Deutsch, attorney and professional hockey player agent, is faced with the opposite situation. He needs to restore his name after Tomáš Vokoun decided to change agents because Deutsch couldn’t secure a satisfactory contract for his client.
If you were a 35-year-old star goaltender with no Stanley Cup on your list of achievements, you would probably feel that this is your last chance to earn a well-paid, long-term contract on a good NHL team with a chance to win the Stanley Cup. You would be looking forward to July 1 like a child looking forward to Santa Claus. At the start of July you would become a free agent and could make a deal with any team. You would see the upcoming contract negotiations as critically important.
This was the exact situation that Vokoun found himself in this summer. His $6.3 million-per-year contract with Florida came to an end and a chance to move to a contender was presented.
But the free-agent market was tough. After three days of free agency, most of the best free agents were already under new contracts but Vokoun still was not. Agent Deutsch wasn’t able to convince any of top clubs to pay $6 million or more and the Czech national team goalie had to settle for less.
He finally signed a one-year contract with the Washington Capitals, which comes with a Stanley Cup opportunity, but for only $1.5 million.
When a goalie who had one of the top save percentages in the league with a second-rate team like Florida has to sign a $1.5 million contract, one has to wonder what went wrong. A natural reaction is to fire the man who negotiated the contract terms.
Michael Deutsch cannot be happy about it, just as Vokoun cannot be comfortable with forfeiting almost $5 million per year. Other than Washington general manager George McPhee, who landed a premier goaltender for a bargain, the most fortunate man in this situation might be Vokoun’s new agent, Allan Walsh, who will have a shot to negotiate a better contract next summer.