- In carrying out its authority as exclusive bargaining representative of all National Hockey League (“NHL”) players, the National Hockey League Players’ Association (“NHLPA”) will continue its practice of delegating to agents a specific and limited aspect of the NHLPA’s overall authority – namely, the authority to negotiate individual player contracts consistent with the provisions of the applicable Collective Bargaining Agreement and the NHLPA’s policies. In exercising that authority, an agent occupies an important role and must conduct himself in accordance with his fiduciary relationship with his player-client.
- The objective of agent certification is to establish the highest degree of professional competence, conduct and integrity in the representation of professional hockey players. To that end, the NHLPA expects that each and every agent certified under these procedures will strive to attain, achieve and maintain high-quality performance as a player agent. At a minimum, each agent will be expected to become knowledgeable about the NHLPA, its structure and the services it provides. Agents will be expected to understand the economics of the industry, the applicable Collective Bargaining Agreements, basic negotiating strategies and techniques and those areas of the law relevant to the professional duties of an agent.
- In Article 2 (“Recognition”) of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (“CBA”) between the NHL and the NHLPA, effective the 25th day of June, 1997, the parties agreed as follows:
- Recognition. The NHL recognizes the NHLPA as the exclusive bargaining representative of all present and future players employed as such in the League by the Clubs, but not including any other Club employees. The NHL and NHLPA agree that notwithstanding the foregoing, such players, acting individually or through certified agents, and Clubs may, on an individual basis, bargain with respect to and agree upon (1) an individual salary over and above the minimum requirements established by this Agreement and (2) to the extent not inconsistent with this Agreement or any Exhibit hereto, including but not limited to the Standard Player’s Contract, special covenants to be included in an individual Standard Player’s Contract that concern benefits.
- In accordance with Article 6 (“NHLPA Agent Certification”) of the CBA, the NHLPA shall publish and provide to the NHL and to each of its member Clubs a list of agents who are currently certified in accordance with its Agent Certification Program. The list shall be updated by the NHLPA on a continuing basis. The NHL, in carrying out its duties and obligations with respect to individual Player Contracts under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, agrees to adhere to the following procedure:
- Players Contracts. No Club shall enter into a Player Contract with any player and the NHL shall not register or approve any Player Contract unless such player: (i) was represented in the negotiations by a Certified Agent as designated by the NHLPA under Section 6.1; or (ii) if Player has no Certified Agent, acts on his own behalf in negotiating such Player Contract.
- If, notwithstanding the foregoing, negotiations involving any Club and a non-certified agent take place and a contract is executed, that contract shall not be registered by the NHL.
Scope of Regulation
A. Persons Subject to Regulations
No Person (other than a player representing himself) shall conduct individual contract negotiations on behalf of a player*, and/or assist in or advise with respect to such negotiations with NHL Clubs unless he**:
(1) is currently certified as an agent pursuant to these Regulations,
(2) signs the Standard Player-Agent Contract with the player (See Section 4) and
(3) submits a fully executed copy of the Standard Player-Agent Contract to the NHLPA, along with any contract(s) between the player and the agent for other services to be provided.
B. Activities Covered
These Regulations govern the activities and conduct of agents in the provision of advice, counsel, information or assistance to players with respect to negotiating their individual contracts with Clubs and/or thereafter in enforcing those contracts; the conduct of negotiations regarding compensation with the Clubs on behalf of individual players; and any other activity or conduct which directly or indirectly bears upon on agent’s integrity, competence or ability to properly represent individual NHL players and the NHLPA in individual contract negotiations, the management of funds, tax preparation and counseling, and financial advice and investment services.
These Regulations may in the future be modified or amended by the NHLPA Executive Board as it deems necessary or appropriate.
* The Term “player” shall mean anyone eligible to play in the NHL, including a player about to enter his rookie season in the NHL.
** References to “he” or “his” shall apply equally to she/her.
Standard of Conduct For Agents
An objective of the NHLPA in issuing these Regulations is to enable players to make an informed selection of an agent and to ensure that all agents shall provide to the individual players whom they represent in contract negotiations with NHL Clubs effective representation at fair and reasonable rates that are uniformly applicable.
A. General Requirements
An agent shall be required to:
(1) Disclose on his Application for Certification, and thereafter on May 1 of each year, any information relevant to his qualifications to serve as an agent, including, but not limited to, background, education, special training, experience in negotiations, past representation of professional athletes, and business associations or memberships in professional organizations.
(2) Pay an application fee and an annual fee pursuant to Section 2 above as set by the NHLPA.
(3) Be sufficiently educated with regard to the NHL, its structure and economics, the applicable Collective Bargaining Agreement, basic negotiation strategy and techniques, and developments in sports law and related subjects.
(4) Attend an NHLPA seminar each year except when the NHLPA determines not to require such attendance.
(5) Execute the Standard Player-Agent Contract and clearly identify any and all fees, compensation and/or expenses to be charged by an agent to a player and provide a copy to the player and to the NHLPA within 48 hours after the contract is executed.
(6) Advise a player and report to the NHLPA any known violations by an NHL Club of a player’s individual contract or of his rights under any applicable CBA.
(7) Provide the NHLPA with a copy of any player compensation agreement negotiated on behalf of any player with any NHL Club within 48 hours after the contract is executed.
(8) Provide on or before March 1 of each year, to each player whom he represents, with a copy to the NHLPA, an itemized statement covering the period January 1 through December 31 of the immediately prior year which separately sets forth both the fee charged to the player for, and any expenses incurred in connection with the performance of, the following services: (a) individual player salary negotiations, and/or salary or grievance arbitration, (b) the management of the player’s assets, (c) the provision to the player of financial, investment, legal, tax and/or other advice, and (d) any other miscellaneous services.
(9) Permit a person or firm authorized by a former or current player-client to conduct an audit, upon request, of all relevant books and records relating to any services provided to that player.
(10) Establish and maintain, throughout the period of representation, and for a period of not less than two years after the conclusion of the player’s career, a comprehensive file and/or record of all services performed including, but not limited to, notes and memoranda regarding contract negotiations, fee and representation agreements, Standard Player Contracts and Standard Player-Agent Contracts.
(11) Provide a written notice to the NHLPA within thirty (30) days of any significant change in status, including:
(a) Any change in employment status or business structure that has taken place since the filing of the Application for Certification;
(b) Any change in the player(s) represented that has taken place since the filing of the Application for Certification;
(c) Any disciplinary proceeding or formal charge or complaint initiated or filed against the agent in his professional capacity since the filing of the Application for Certification.
(12) Provide the NHLPA with any information, documents or materials that the NHLPA deems relevant with respect to any investigation conducted pursuant to these Regulations and in all other respects to cooperate fully with the NHLPA.
(13) Fully comply with applicable state, provincial and federal laws.
B. Prohibited Conduct Subject to Discipline
To further effectuate the objectives of these Regulations, agents are prohibited from:
(a) Representing any player in individual contract negotiations with any Club unless the agent (i) is currently certified (ii) has a fully executed Standard Player-Agent Contract with each such player; and (iii) has submitted a copy of the Standard Player-Agent Contract to the NHLPA along with any other contract(s) or agreement(s) between the player and the agent;
(b) Providing or causing to be provided a monetary inducement or any other thing of value to any player to induce or encourage that player to utilize his services;
(c) Providing or causing to be provided a monetary inducement or any other thing of value to a member of a player’s family or any other person for the purpose or inducing or encouraging the player to utilize his services or for the purpose of inducing or encouraging that person to recommend that a player utilize the services of the agent;
(d) Providing or causing to be provided materially false or misleading information to any player in the context of recruiting the player as a client or in the course of representing that player as his agent;
(e) Representing directly or indirectly to any player or prospective player that NHLPA certification is an endorsement or recommendation by the NHLPA of the agent, the agent’s qualifications or the agent’s services;
(f) Holding or seeking to hold, either directly or indirectly, a financial interest in any professional hockey club or in any other business venture that could create an actual conflict of interest or the appearance of a conflict of interest in the representation of players;
(g) Representing, either directly or indirectly:
(i) any official, employee or independent contractor of the NHL or one of its affiliates, or
(ii) any officer, employee or independent contractor of an NHL Club or one of its affiliated companies including but not limited to coaches, general managers, scouts and locker room personnel, or
(iii) any individual who subjects an agent to interests, duties, obligations or responsibilities that could adversely affect an agent’s judgment, counsel, advice or undivided loyalty to a player;
(h) Engaging in any other activity which creates an actual or potential conflict of interest with the effective representation of players, provided that the representation of two or more players on any one Club shall not itself be deemed to be prohibited by this provision;
(i) Soliciting or accepting fees, commissions, money or anything of value from any NHL Club;
(j) Acting as a surety, guarantor or co-signator on any indebtedness, loan, promissory note or letter of credit as between a player and any professional hockey club;
(k) Negotiating and/or agreeing to any provision in a player contract which deprives that player of any benefit contained in any Collective Bargaining Agreement between the NHL and the NHLPA;
(l) Negotiating and/or agreeing to any provision in any contract on behalf of a player which directly or indirectly violates and stated policies, rules, requirements or programs established by the NHLPA;
(m) Concealing material facts from any player whom the agent is representing which relate to the subject of an individual player’s contract negotiation;
(n) Failing to advise the player and to report to the NHLPA any known violations by the NHL or an NHL Club of a player’s individual contract;
(o) Engaging in unlawful conduct and/or conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, misrepresentation, or other conduct which reflects adversely on his fitness as an agent or jeopardizes the effective representation of NHL players;
(p) Breaching the provisions of the Standard Player-Agent Contract that the agent is required to enter into pursuant to these Regulations;
(q) Filing any lawsuit or other proceeding against a player for any matter which is subject to to the exclusive arbitration provisions in the Standard Player-Agent Contract and these Regulations;
(r) Violating any other provision of these Regulations.
An agent who engages in any prohibited conduct defined above shall be subject to discipline in accordance with the procedures of Section 6 of these Regulations.
The NHLPA expects that every agent will carry out the representational services covered by these Regulations with the highest degree of professional competence and integrity. In this respect, the NHLPA likewise expects that to achieve and maintain a high quality of performance every agent, at a minimum, will take the necessary steps to become knowledgeable about the NHLPA, the economics of the industry, applicable collective bargaining agreements, basic negotiating techniques, and the areas of the law relevant to his professional duties. If, after these Regulations become the effective, the NHLPA determines that there is a need to impose additional requirements with respect to the quality of agent performance, the NHLPA reserves the right to amend these Regulations accordingly and every agent shall be obligated to abide by all such amendments.
Agreements Between Agents and Players
A. Standard Player-Agent Contract
To qualify to perform the services of an agent under these Regulations, a person must satisfy three prerequisites: (1) he must be certified; (2) he must have signed the Standard Player-Agent Contract with the player*; and (3) he must have submitted a copy of the Standard Player-Agent Contract to the NHLPA along with any other contract(s) for additional services that the agent has executed with the player. Retyped contracts will not be accepted.
A copy of the executed Standard Player-Agent Contract shall be provided to the player when executed and a further copy sent by prepaid certified mail by the agent to the NHLPA within 48 hours of execution.
Once the agent satisfies the three prerequisites stated above, he shall be authorized to function as an agent for the player under these Regulations.
Any agreement between an agent and a player entered into after the effective date of these Regulations which is not in writing or which does not meet the requirements of these Regulations shall be of no force and effect, and no agent shall have the right to assert any claim against a player for compensation on the basis of such purported contract.
Any agreement entered into after the effective date of these Regulations shall include a provision whereby either party may terminate that agreement upon fifteen (15) days’ written notice to the other party. A copy of the written termination must be sent to the NHLPA within 48 hours of execution.
B. Agent’s Compensation
An agent is prohibited from receiving any fee for his services until and unless the player receives the compensation upon which the fee is based. Moreover, any portion of a fee based on player compensation that is unascertainable at the time the player contract is negotiated (e.g., a performance bonus) shall not be collected by the agent until the player has received such compensation.
Consistent with the foregoing, an agent is prohibited from including any provision in a Standard Player-Agent Contract whereby the player becomes obligated to make any fee payment to the agent in advance of the player’s receipt of the compensation upon which the fee is based. However, these Regulations recognize that with respect to compensation for the current playing season or deferred compensation, a player may decide that it is in his best interest to pay his agent’s fee in advance of the receipt of any such compensation. Accordingly, it is the intent of these Regulations that an option be accorded to the player to make such advance fee payments to his agent if the player chooses to do so. In any such situation the agent is authorized to accept the advance payment if such agreement is otherwise in accordance with Section 3 of the Standard Player-Agent Contract. Further, such an agreement between an agent and a player must be in writing with a copy sent to the NHLPA. Where this occurs with respect to deferred compensation, the agent shall be entitled only to a fee based on the present value of that compensation.
C. Effective Date and Existing Agreements
Effective January 20, 1996, any agent who thereafter wishes to provide representational services to any Player in connection with that player’s contract negotiations with any NHL Club must comply with these Regulations.
If prior to January 20, 1996, an agent had entered into an agreement with any Player relating to contract negotiations and as a result of the agent’s services the player and an NHL Club have executed a contract on or before January 20, 1996, that agreement shall remain in full force and effect for the duration of that agreement provided, however, that the player shall have the right to terminate the agent upon written notice in accordance with the Standard Player-Agent Contract.
Any dispute involving the proper interpretation or application of these Regulations to any agreement between a player and his agent regarding a Standard Player’s Contract executed on or after January 20, 1996 shall be subject to the arbitration procedure set forth in Section 5 herein, which shall constitute the sole and exclusive method for the resolution thereof.
* An agent may execute the NHLPA Standard Player-Agent Contract through a corporation, partnership or other entity if a valid reason for doing so is demonstrated to the NHLPA. An agent who is granted NHLPA authority to execute the Standard Player-Agent Contract through a corporation, partnership or entity will be required to personally execute the unconditional guarantee set out at page 6 of the Standard Player-Agent Contract.
A. Purpose and Scope
In establishing a system for regulating agents, it is the intention of the NHLPA that the arbitration process set forth herein be the sole and exclusive method for resolving any and all disputes that may arise from the interpretation, application or enforcement of these Regulations and the resulting agreements between agents and individual players. This will ensure that those disputes – which involve essentially internal matters concerning the relationship between individual players, the NHLPA in its capacity as their exclusive bargaining representative, and agents performing certain delegated representative functions relating particularly to individual Player compensation negotiations – will be handled and resolved expeditiously by the decision-maker established herein, without need to resort to costly and time-consuming formal adjudication.
The arbitration of any dispute involving a player and an agent shall be initiated by the filing of a written grievance either by the player or his agent.
Any such grievance must be filed within six (6) months from the date of the occurrence or non-occurrence of the event upon which the grievance is based or within six (6) months from the date on which the facts of the matter become known or reasonably should have become known to the party initiating the grievance, whichever is later. A player need not be under contract to an NHL Club at the time a grievance relating to him arises or at the time such grievance is initiated or processed.
A player may initiate a grievance against an agent by (i) sending the written grievance by prepaid certified mail to the agent’s business address or by personal delivery at such address, and (ii) sending a copy to the NHLPA. An agent may initiate a grievance against a player by (i) sending a written grievance by prepaid certified mail to the player or by personal delivery of the grievance to the player, and (ii) sending a copy to the NHLPA. The written grievance shall set forth in plain and understandable terms the facts and circumstances giving rise to the grievance, the provision(s) of the agreement between the player and his agent alleged to have been violated, and the relief sought.
The party against whom a grievance has been filed (the “Respondent”) shall answer the grievance (the “Answer”) in writing by certified mail or personal delivery to the grievant and the NHLPA within thirty (30) calendar days of receipt of the grievance. The Answer shall admit or deny the facts alleged in the grievance and shall also briefly set forth the reasons why the Respondent believes the grievance should be denied. Once the Answer is field, the NHLPA shall promptly provide the Arbitrator with copies of the grievance and the Answer and all other relevant documents. If an Answer is not filed within this time limit, the Arbitrator, in his discretion, may issue an order where appropriate, granting the grievance and the requested relief upon satisfactory proof of the claim.
The NHLPA shall select a skilled, experienced and impartial person to serve as the Arbitrator for all cases arising hereunder. The NHLPA may discharge the Arbitrator by serving written notice upon him. The Arbitrator so discharged shall render decisions in all cases he previously heard but will hear no further cases. The NHLPA shall thereupon select a successor Arbitrator. If there is an interim period between the discharge of the Arbitrator and the selection of a successor Arbitrator, an Arbitrator shall be selected on a case by case basis under the Voluntary Labor Tribunal Rules of the American Arbitration Association then in effect.
The Arbitrator shall schedule a hearing on the dispute in Toronto or such other city as is mutually agreeable. At such hearing, the parties may appear in person or by counsel or other representative. The parties to the dispute will have the right to present, by testimony or otherwise, any evidence relevant to the grievance. If a witness is unavailable, the witness’ testimony may, in the discretion of the Arbitrator, be taken by telephone conference call.
Within thirty (30) days after the close of the hearing, the Arbitrator shall issue a written award. That award shall constitute full, final and complete resolution of the grievance, and will be binding upon the parties involved, provided, however, the Arbitrator will not have the authority to add to, subtract from, or alter in any way the provisions of these Regulations.
If the Arbitrator grants a money award, it shall be paid within thirty (30) days. The Arbitrator may award interest in his discretion.
F. Telephone Conference
Any hearing conducted pursuant to the provisions of this section in which the amount in dispute is less than $20,000 shall be conducted via telephone conference call if all parties concur.
G. Evidence Regarding Compromise
The parties to disputes should have the freedom to explore compromise or settlement and to assess the possibilities for resolving contested matters. Accordingly, all evidence of statements or conduct made in compromise or settlement negotiations is not admissible.
Each party will bear the costs of its own witnesses and counsel. Costs of arbitration, including the fees and expenses of the Arbitrator, will be borne equally between the parties to the grievance provided, however, that the Arbitrator may assess some or all of a party’s costs to an opposing party if he deems a party’s position in the case to be frivolous and/or totally without merit.
I. Time Limits
The time limits of this section may be extended only by written agreement of the parties.
In addition to performing, reviewing and acting upon all Applications for Certification, the NHLPA shall have the authority and responsibility of initiating and then presenting disciplinary cases against agents who engage in prohibited conduct as defined in Section 3 of these Regulations. In carrying out this function the NHLPA also will have the assistance of its outside legal counsel.
Disciplinary proceedings against any certified agent shall be initiated by the filing of a written complaint (the “Complaint”) against the agent. Such complaint may be based upon information received by the NHLPA from any person having knowledge of the action or conduct of the agent in question. The Complaint shall be sent to the agent by prepaid certified mail addressed to the agent’s business office, or may be hand-delivered to the agent personally at his business address. The Complaint shall set forth the specific action or conduct giving rise to the Complaint and cite the Regulation(s) alleged to have been violated.
A Complaint must be filed by the NHLPA within one year from the date of the occurrence which gave rise to the Complaint, or within one year from the date on which the information sufficient to create reasonable cause became known or reasonably should have become known to the NHLPA, whichever is later. The filing deadline for initiating a Complaint arising out of the facts of a Section 5 grievance or any other litigation shall be extended to one year from the date of the Arbitrator’s final decision in the Section 5 grievance on the final decision in such other litigation.
The agent against whom the Complaint has been filed shall have thirty (30) days in which to file a written answer (the “Answer”) to the Complaint. Such Answer shall be sent by prepaid certified mail to the offices of the NHLPA. The Answer must admit or deny the facts alleged in the Complaint, and shall also assert any facts or arguments which the agent wishes to state in his defense. Failure to timely answer shall be deemed an admission.
D. Proposed Disciplinary Action
Within thirty (30) days after receipt of the Answer, the NHLPA shall inform the agent in writing by prepaid certified mail of the nature of the discipline, if any, which the NHLPA proposes to impose, which discipline may include one or more of the following:
(1) Issuance by the NHLPA of an informal order of reprimand to be retained in the agent’s file at the NHLPA’s offices;
(2) Issuance of a formal letter of reprimand which may be made public in NHLPA communications and other media;
(3) Suspension of an agent’s certified status for a specified period of time during which he shall be prohibited from representing the NHLPA in conducting individual contract negotiations for any NHL player or assisting in or advising with respect to such negotiations; and
(4) Revocation of the agent’s certification.
The agent who has been denied certification or against whom a Complaint has been filed under this section may appeal the NHLPA’s action to the Arbitrator by filing by prepaid certified mail a written Notice of Appeal upon the NHLPA and the Arbitrator within thirty (30) days following his receipt of notification of the proposed action.
Within thirty (30) days of receipt of the Notice of Appeal, the Arbitrator shall set a time and place for a hearing on the Appeal. The failure of an agent to file a timely appeal shall be deemed to constitute an acceptance of the proposed action.
The Arbitrator shall be the same Arbitrator selected to serve pursuant to Section 5, unless such Arbitrator has previously heard and decided a grievance under Section 5 involving the same agent and the same factual circumstances which are the subject of the disciplinary action herein. In such cases, the NHLPA shall select another skilled and experienced person to serve as the outside Arbitrator.
G. Conduct of Hearing
At the hearing of any Appeal, the NHLPA shall have the burden of proving its allegations by a preponderance of the evidence. The NHLPA and the agent shall be afforded a full opportunity to present, through a testimony or otherwise, their evidence pertaining to the action or conduct of the agent alleged to be in violation of the Regulations. All hearings shall be transcribed.
At the close of the hearing or within thirty (30) days thereafter, the Arbitrator shall issue a decision on the Appeal, which decision shall either affirm, vacate or modify the proposed action of the NHLPA. The Arbitrator shall decide two issues: first, whether the evidence supports the finding of the NHLPA that the agent has engaged in or is engaging in prohibited conduct; and second, if so, whether the action proposed by the NHLPA should be affirmed or modified. Such decision shall be made in the form of an appropriate written order reflecting the Arbitrator’s opinion and shall be final and binding on all parties.
H. Time Limits and Cost
The time limits of this section may be extended only by written agreement of the parties. The fees and expenses of the Arbitrator under this section will be paid by the NHLPA. Each party will bear the costs of its own witnesses and counsel and any other expenses related to its participation in the proceedings.
I. Evidence Regarding Compromise
The parties to disputes should have the freedom to explore compromise or settlement and to assess the possibilities for resolving contested matters. Accordingly, all evidence of statements or conduct made in compromise or settlement negotiations is not admissible.
Effective Date and Amendment
A. Effective Date
These Regulations shall become effective on January 20, 1996.
These Regulations may be amended from time to time by the NHLPA.