Confidential: Inside a Don Meehan Negotiation
UPDATE (11:32pm) – Of course, 11 hours after I posted this, Drew Doughty has signed in LA. Early indications put the deal at 8 years for $7 million per. So, the obvious lesson for both sides: procrastinate something as far as you possibly can, because when you do it, the timing will be hilariously perfect.
While enjoying patios and beer league baseball shenanigans this summer, Leaf Nation couldnâ€™t help but keep one anxious ear primed for any news â€“ or explanation â€“ surrounding the lack of a Luke Schenn signing well into September. Now, late into training camp, fans of the Los Angeles Kings wait with the same baited breath for their own RFA superstar Drew Doughtyâ€™s new deal. To call both situations peculiar, given the playersâ€™ individual importance to their respective teams, would not be an overstatement. Is there some connection between these prolonged negotiations?
Might Donald E. Meehan – founding partner of Newport Sports Management and agent to both players â€“ be that common denominator?
Meehan clients dragging out negotiations are nothing new. In one of those strangely lucky confiscations we often manage, our people have come into possession of a potential answer. Actually, itâ€™s what appears to be the rough cut of a pilot episode for a new documentary series pitch called â€œMeehan My Money: How to Holdoutâ€.
A legal notice prevents us from showing the footage; a transcription, it seems, is permissible. Read on to experience firsthand an NHL executiveâ€™s worst hell: Brian Burkeâ€™s recent contract negotiations with Don Meehan over client Luke Schenn.
Location:Â MLSE Conference Room, Air Canada Centre, Toronto
Date: Thursday, September 15, 2011
BRIAN BURKE, DAVE NONIS, and CLIFF FLETCHER sit waiting. DON MEEHAN enters. A CAMERA CREW follows him.
BURKE: What â€“
MEEHAN: Documentary crew. Following me around for the week, at TIFF. New reality show pilot Iâ€™m pitching to networks. Laughs, intrigue, massive amounts of behind the scenes profanity, everything youâ€™d want from an NHL program on cable!
NONIS: Cutaway talking heads?
MEEHAN: Of course!
DAVE NONISâ€™ OFFICE
NONIS: He warned us about this, we just didnâ€™t believe him. Heâ€™s clinging to that whole super agent image. The end of Entourage hit him really hard.
BRIAN BURKEâ€™S OFFICE
BURKE: This is [censored] ridiculous.
MLSE CONFERENCE ROOM, 9:45 am
BURKE: Whereâ€™s Luke?
MEEHAN: Downstairs, working out.
BURKE: Player gymâ€™s at the MCC, we donâ€™t have one here.
MEEHAN: Oh, I know. Heâ€™s in the underground garage, lifting cars.
NONIS: Domestic or imports?
MEEHAN: Itâ€™s Luke Schenn. What do you think?
NONIS (quietly, to Burke): This kidâ€™s gonna cost a lot.
BURKE: Nice try, Don. I can create leverage, too. As in, â€œSo, we have more NHL-calibre defensemen than the entire Atlantic division. Why should we sign your client?â€
MEEHAN: Fan favourite. High draft pick. Impeccable character. Strong as a freight train. Unrelenting on the puck. Poise, and conduct, that does not reflect his young age. Massive physical upside. Adam Foote-like comparison…
BURKE: Â Alright, we get it. Throw a number on the table.
MEEHAN: Five million.
Long, awkward silence. FLETCHER pulls out a calculator.
FLETCHER: Spread across how many years?
Both BURKE and NONIS look sideways.
NONIS: Don means five million per y-
BURKE: Get out, Cliff. Just get out.
CLIFF FLETCHERâ€™S OFFICE
FLETCHER: God, you make that mistake one time -
MLSE CONFERENCE ROOM, 9:49am
Burke tugs at his tie, undoing it.
BURKE: Fiveâ€™s ridiculous. Two and a half.
MEEHAN: Thatâ€™s [20 second string of censored profanities]â€¦
BRENDAN SHANAHAN enters. Clicks â€œstopâ€ on a running tape recorder.
SHANAHAN: Got you.
NONIS: Shanny, how did you-
SHANAHAN: Agent engaged in lewd descriptions of the executiveâ€™s counterproposal. He combined uninterrupted profanities in excess of the accepted league standard six seconds. The GM had no opportunity to defend himself. Agent, despite having the chance, made no effort to mitigate his own disgusting rant, and pursued the insults with full force. $60,000 fine.
Everyone stares, silent.
DON MEEHANâ€™S MISSISSAUGA OFFICE
MEEHAN: Can he do that? Iâ€™m not a player, or even technically part of the NHL.
BRIAN BURKEâ€™S OFFICE
BURKE: Powerâ€™s gone to his head. And thatâ€™s a Shanahandful of power.
MLSE CONFERENCE ROOM, 10:32am
Papers, monitors, stats, scouting reports â€“ all spread across the table. Burke’s tie is gone.
BURKE: Iâ€™m not giving him four and a half. Mike Komisarek makes four and a half.
MEEHAN: You want to base this on Komisarek? Luke should get twelve.
MLSE CONFERENCE ROOM, 11:46am
Everyoneâ€™s starting to look haggard. Nonisâ€™ eyes are bloodshot, Burkeâ€™s wearing a second tie.
MEEHAN: More term, more money per. You want five years, itâ€™s going to cost way more than three.
BURKE: Adam Foote would have done it for three.
MEEHAN: Holy inflation, Burkeman. Footeâ€™s rookie season was 1991! Different world. Entire arenas werenâ€™t worth three million, back then.
NONIS: Have you been to Long Island lately?
MLSE CONFERENCE ROOM, 1:27pm
Meehanâ€™s smoking a cigarette. Â Burkeâ€™s second tie is gone.
MEEHAN: Heâ€™s blocked 403 shots in his career.
NONIS: Thatâ€™s cumulative. So?
MEEHAN: Well, work it against the CORSI stuff and â€“ technically â€“ Lukeâ€™s career save percentage as Leaf is higher than Vesa Toskalaâ€™s.
MLSE CONFERENCE ROOM, 2:19pm
Nonis is passed out on the table.
BURKE (exasperated): Alright, so, weâ€™re at three point six over f-
DEAN LOMBARDI bursts in, out of breath. Nonis wakes up.
LOMBARDI: You canâ€™t hide from me, Don!
MEEHAN: Dean, we have nothing to discuss. I need a bathroom break.
MEEHAN leaves. LOMBARDI objects, but then resignedly slumps into a chair, talking to himself.
LOMBARDI: Playing it cool. Heâ€™s always playing it so damned cool.
BURKE: You look terrible.
LOMBARDI: I canâ€™t take this anymore. Havenâ€™t slept in three weeks. He counters everything we offer with something ridiculous. They donâ€™t even make sense. We offer to buy him a beachfront condo in Malibu, he asks for his own jet.
Lombardi reaches out and clasps Burkeâ€™s hands.
LOMBARDI: We have to do this together, Bryan. We need to take this guy down-
BURKE: Dean, STOP!
SHANAHAN pokes his head in the door.
BURKE: Itâ€™s collusion, or tampering, or entrapment, or something. We cannot discuss the thing you want to discuss the way you want to discuss it.
LOMBARDI understands. SHANAHAN remains.
LOMBARDI: So, Iâ€™ve got this ice cream. Flavour is…call it, Cookie Doughty.
SHANAHAN leaves, tentatively.
LOMBARDI: I like it. Itâ€™s great ice cream. But itâ€™s so much more expensive than other, similar ice creams that were made around the same time. Even though it hasnâ€™t been as well received, or as consistently awesome, as those ice creams. Itâ€™s also…kind of fattening. But mainly, expensive. So expensive. Like, to the point that you wonder, â€œhow do they sell this ice cream with a straight face? What are they thinking, that Cookie Doughty is worth this much?â€
BURKE: Trade me your ice cream.
LOMBARDI: At this point, Iâ€™d consider it.
BURKE: So, if I give you two f-
BURKE: …one first round pick, and Carl Gunnarson, will that do it?
NONIS: Absolutely not.
BURKE: Well, then you can go f…
SHANAHAN whips around the corner.
BURKE: …find another way.
MEEHAN returns. Burke signs something and throws it across.
BURKE: Three point six over five, like I was saying. We done?
MEEHAN: We done. Iâ€™ll get Luke to sign it.
Meehan takes the paperwork and starts to leaves. Lombardi starts sobbing to himself.
LOMBARDI: This job sucks. I lose out on Kovalchuk…Brad Richards…he holds out on Doughty…I get all worked up thinking Dustin Pennerâ€™s worth so much…
BRIAN BURKEâ€™S OFFICE
BURKE: Been there, pal.
MLSE Underground Garage
FLETCHER mutters to himself, fishing through his keys. MEEHAN walks by, laughing.
MEEHAN: Ha. â€œOver how many years?â€ Again. Wow, Cliff.
MEEHAN leaves. FLETCHER flips him off. Shanahan appears.
SHANAHAN: Fingerâ€™s gonna cost you.
FLETCHER: Wouldnâ€™t be the first time.
MEEHAN climbs behind the wheel. Thereâ€™s a shadowy figure in the back seat.
BURKE: Keep puttinâ€™ the screws to him. Heâ€™s losinâ€™ it.
MEEHAN: All this, because he took Brayden Schenn?
BURKE exits the car.