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Unraveling the Auston Matthews Controversy: How it Reflects on Kyle Dubas and the NHLPA

According to NHL insider Frank Seravalli, Kyle Dubas, the former general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs, is currently being investigated for a possible violation related to his failed negotiations with the Leafs last week.

As reported by Seravalli, the NHL is investigating Dubas’ relationship with his agent at the renowned Wasserman firm for possible violations of the NHLPA Certified Agent rules.

The NHL Players’ Association is reviewing the relationship between former Toronto Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas and his agent at the high-profile Wasserman agency for potential violation of the Certified Agent regulations that govern agent activity, an NHLPA spokesperson confirmed to Daily Faceoff.

Dubas was represented in his recent negotiations with Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment by Chris Armstrong, of Wasserman Sports, the same agency that also represents Toronto superstar Auston Matthews.

NHLPA Certified Agent regulations prohibit agents from representing and providing services to any officer or employee of an NHL club. Armstrong is not currently an NHL certified agent and therefore not subject to discipline by the NHLPA; Armstrong is predominantly a golf agent and represents professional golfers Tony Finau and Cameron Champ, among others, for Wasserman.

The question for the NHLPA to determine: Are agents working for the same agency, but in a different division or arm of the firm, also prohibited from representing hockey executives on the other side of the table?

– Frank Seravalli

In light of this, it appears that the problem is that Dubas and athletes like Auston Matthews cannot both be represented by the same agency because doing so could lead to a conflict of interest.

Direct explanation of the in question rule:

Agents are prohibited from … representing, providing services to, either directly or indirectly, or engaging in or proposing to engage in business ventures with … any officer, employee or independent contractor of an NHL Club, other Professional Hockey Club or Canadian Major Junior Hockey Club or any other entity affiliated with any of the foregoing, including but not limited to coaches, general managers, scouts and locker room personnel.“

I had no idea this was a rule, and I find it sort of amusing. After all, isn’t the agent only acting in the client’s best interests? If I represent Dubas or Matthews, I would just be concerned with getting them the greatest deal, paying little attention to how the two would interact.

Anyhow, according to Seravalli, the NHL informed teams in 2022 that these types of transactions will be aggressively punished going forward, and it appears that Dubas is the first team staffer to be under investigation. It is unknown what the punishment for breaking this rule will be, and whether it will be disclosed in the end.

Igor Burdetskiy

Igor Burdetskiy

Founder, Editor-in-Chief, & CEO at Hooked on Hockey Magazine
I grew up playing Ball and Roller Hockey day and night somewhat religiously throughout elementary and middle school. The two don't compare though when I lace up the skates and hit the ice. I live and breathe hockey beyond the perspective of "it's just a game" and I will gladly talk hockey for hours with anyone. Hockey is more than just a lifestyle, it's a culture of passionate people who make memories every time the puck is dropped. Hockey has not only helped me get through some of the hardest times in life but has created some of the best memories to date. Want to talk hockey with me? Shoot me an email: iburdetskiy@hookedonhockey.com and let's talk some hockey!
Igor Burdetskiy
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