Turfing of agents absurd

STEVE SIMMONS -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:36 AM ET

Player agent Gus Badali, whose storied client list once included Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Steve Yzerman and Paul Coffey, has had his certification revoked by the National Hockey Players' Association.

Badali was accused of conflict of interest by the NHLPA for his part in trying to get a Toronto Toros World Hockey Association franchise off the ground this year. While never under contract -- although he had been named team general manager -- Badali had prepared a draft list for the fledgling team and participated in the free-agent draft for a league that didn't exist.

After doing so, Badali was telephone by NHLPA boss Bob Goodenow and told he had violated NHLPA rules and his certification as an NHL agent was no longer valid.

"It all happened very quickly," said Badali, best known for turning a 17-year-old Wayne Gretzky pro back in 1978. "I was told I can't have any affiliation with a team. I accepted the fact that that was the rule."

COMPELLING CHARGES

Badali is one of two big-name agents who have been decertified in recent times. Last week, Bryant McBride, agent for Jason Allison and others, had his certification revoked by the NHLPA when he was accused of leaking privileged information to a Minneapolis newspaper.

The conflict of interest charges against Badali are compelling in light of other potential situations that involve the PA. For example, while Badali lost his certification for being involved with a WHA team, PA member and Maple Leafs goaltender Ed Belfour received no sanction of any kind for his ownership participation with the crumbled Dallas franchise.

How can it be conflict for an agent to involve himself with a team, but not for a playing member under contract to a National Hockey League team with ownership of a team in what was supposed to be a competitive league?

And the largest and most disgraceful conflict continues on -- the fact agents such as Badali and McBride lose their certification while a hockey embarrassment such as David Frost remains in good status with the NHLPA.

This is Bob Goodenow at his worst. For a man who is quick to point out conflict of interest, he doesn't seem to notice his own.

Frost, banned from three hockey leagues, has not been decertified by the NHLPA. Frost once worked as a player birddog for agent Mike Gillis, although Gillis all but denies that relationship now. Gillis is tight with Goodenow, who used to coach minor hockey alongside Frost in Toronto.

Frost coached Goodenow's son, Joe, in what was then the Metro Toronto Hockey League.

This is a conflict of interest Alan Eagleson couldn't deny, but Goodenow goes after the Badalis and the McBrides instead and typically -- this is the hockey world at its worst -- no one says anything.

Not even the people affected.

When asked how he feels about being decertified knowing that Frost remains in the good graces of the PA, Badali said:

"I'd rather not comment on that ... Only Bob Goodenow can answer if there are different rules for different people."

When asked why no agent speaks out against the inclusion of Frost in their organization, Badali said: "I'm sorry but I don't want to go there."

Badali did say he would re-apply for certification when the NHL is back in business. "Until then, there's no reason to be certified. I don't see any reason why I won't get back in."

All he needs to do is get banned from a league or two and he's a sure thing.


Videos

Photos