Exclusive interview with Landeskog´s agentEurolanche did the exclusive interview with Landeskog´s agent about his job and the Avalanche client.
Wallen (*1965) is an NHLPA
certified Swedish hockey agent who is a president and a founder of the Alterno Sports Management and also
cooperates with the Octagon Hockey
in North America. He played in the elite hockey league in Sweden for 10 years
and won the championship in 1989 with Djurgarden
– the same team that Gabriel Landeskog
played during the last lockout for. At the age of 30, he retired of a
professional hockey and had started a hockey agent´s career in 1995.
Peter visits Bratislava, the capital city of Slovakia,
every summer due the famous international hockey tournament – Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup for under-18 player
category – that is organized in two cities near to Bratislava. Eurolanche met with Peter in Bratislava
and did an exclusive interview that was mainly focused on one of his clients –
Landeskog. You can follow Peter on his Twitter - @P_alterno.
did you do before you became a hockey agent?
I played a hockey until I was thirty. Then I started small steps to helping out some former team members and started to recruit little bid. I was also involving in a financial business, so I was mixing both of that (aspects) for couple of years.
is the easiest way to become a hockey agent?
When I started it many years ago, the agent business
wasn´t as big as today. I think you maybe need to go to a sports
management school. If you want to be a good agent and want to keep it for a
long time, you should hook up with older agents who have been around for many years
and they show you how it works and you can be like an assistant. But you can
get more and more responsibility all the time. It isn´t easy. There is nothing easy
with being an agent at all. It is hard competition. We have a lot of agents all
over Europe. It is tough. I would say the best way is to find an agent who has
been work for many years.
did you meet Landeskog for the first time?
When he was 15; the year he was turning 16, so in 2008.
was the start of the cooperation between you?
I called his father, introduced myself and I asked if
they would like to sit down and have a meeting with me. They said yes, so we
had a lunch. We had a long lunch, I was doing my presentation. We had really
good meeting. I enjoyed it. I was interested in him before the meeting, during
the meeting and after the meeting. That was like double interesting.
it work in the way that you called to parents?
I don´t know how it works for other people. We do a
lot of scouting, we do research and then we decide what players we would like to
represent. Then we go out and try to recruit them. Always calling to a father
or a mother – depending on a family situation. We are asking them to have a
meeting with parents and a player.
you compare Landeskog when he was 16 and now?
Of course he had developed a lot during these five
years. Compared to his age group, he was a natural leader. The meeting I had
with him was like ´He is so mature!´.
He wanted to learn the stuff.
was your first impression when you saw him for the first time on the ice?
Tremendous leader. You could see he had a lot of responsibility,
strong skater, strong body, great leadership.
some negative aspects that he has to develop?
He needs to develop all his sides, because he is going
to be absolutely fantastic player. He scored a lot of points in his rookie
year. It was expected from his style of the play. The North American style fits
him pretty good. He has good shot, he is good passer, he is very good in many
aspects. He will have to improve overall.
was the cooperation between you when Landy went overseas to play in the juniors
when he was still a kid?
We talked via telephone or Skype. I traveled there to
meet him several times both years. I had some people in Canada who also met
with him and took care about him, helped him out with couple of other issues
off the ice. I had really good connection with his coach and GM. We had a good
contact. He is mature kid, he knows how to take care in himself as well. His father
was there a lot. It was a combination of things that made good relationship
between us over these two years.
was the preparation process for the draft?
We had a lot of meetings in Toronto. We had several
meetings after the Combine. He also went to Stanley Cup Finals – top prospects
were going. We had couple of meetings the day before the draft. Avs are his
favorite team, Forsberg is a favorite player. Back in his room it was Avs and Peter Forsberg. When they called his
name it was awesome, big moment for him.
did he tell you first when he was picked up by the Avs?
He was just laughing. It was great and awesome.
or where he learn how to talk with media? If I compare his behavior off the ice
with for example some KHL´s young players, it is simply incomparable…
Gabriel is a natural. He enjoys being interviewed, he
likes to communicate. He has always been a leader, so he wants to talk to everybody.
It is just come natural from him. Before he went to Kitchener, we never had media
training or anything, it is just him.
guess there was any problem to negotiate his first contract.
No. If you´re number two overall at the draft, everything
is set to be maximum except individual bonuses.
talked with Greg Sherman?
fans and even some media speculated who really was in charge for the Avalanche
business in that time. Sherman or Pierre Lacroix…
Whenever I talking to Avalanche regarding Landeskog (except
the media issues), it had always been Greg. I think Greg has been outstanding
to me, very polite, very good. We have had always good relationship. How or who
is doing it behind the scene it is up to them. But if you are asking me, it has
been Greg every time and for everything.
you focus on the length of Landy´s next contract?
I think you can look at that in two ways. If numbers are
good, you can talk about a length of the contract. But if you can´t reach the
numbers, it will decrease the years that you come in to. Making him a captain
gives you a sense or a signal what they would like to. Gabriel is on the team
that has been his favorite for his whole life, they named him a captain, he
loves Denver. There is no reason why it shouldn´t be a long term contract with
both sides being very, very pleased.
you think that Landy will be under big pressure next season? He enters the last
year of his contract.
I think that would be something he isn´t going to be
focus on at all. He is good enough to be the captain this year. I think they
will keep him as a captain for many years.
he keep the captaincy in the next season?
I would be surprised if it was taken away from him.
you think he was ready to become a captain? Denver Post reported that Landy
should speak in the locker room, not Jean-Sebastien Giguere in the infamous “Las
Landy would never say yes if he wasn´t prepared. He was
asked and he replied yes that means he is prepared. Would he know everything
about being the captain NHL? No, for sure not. But he got good company around
him, helping him out and supporting him, because it is learning period of course.
When you are 19, 24 or 27 and if you never been a captain, it is always a
learning process. I think Landy has a kind of respect that is required to be a
captain. There will always be players frustrated for something, somehow,
sometimes, that will say something in the press that doesn´t belong there.
While anyone would say that should be talking Landy in the dressing room, he
can never stop Giguere and anyone else to talk. He can try to reach out them
and say ´Let´s keep this in the locker
room, we won´t do that in the media, but in the locker room´. He is that kind
of a guy as well, but you can´t control the group of 25 people. It will always
do you fly to Denver per season?
Last year, I was only once or twice because of the lockout.
Year before it was lot more. Denver is nice. The home opener was Forsberg´s
retirement ceremony. We had public signing, some marketing stuff. I was
probably there for 3-4 times in his first year.
do you do there except the business with Landy in Denver?
It is a lot of business. But we meet to go for dinner,
asking him how he is, how he feels, what´s new. I also see him on the away
games, Chicago, New York, somewhere else. Or we have breakfast, lunch, stuff
like that. It started with the draft. It was the Combine, draft, home opener,
November, All Star, February and Awards. It was crazy year.
you remember on some funny moment that you experienced with Landy?
I saw him playing at World Championship under-18 in
the USA. They had day off and we went to game together. Once we were sitting there,
I asked him a question if he would like to play here. He turned to me and said ´Absolutely´. He had a contract offer to
Swedish league on the table back home. We said let´s not do it before the World
Championship. That´s funny moment, because it was the first time we talked
about it seriously and he was like ´I wanna
plan B was playing in Sweden?
Yeah, it was when he went to Kitchener, when he was
16. So he turned Swedish Elite League down to go to Kitchener.
there any problems when Gabriel was younger that you had to solve? Something
with the organization issues or business…
He was drafted by Plymouth
Whalers and we were going to Kitchener
Rangers. I dealt with that for like 4-5 weeks or something like that before
Kitchener came up with the solution and could trade him.
he want to play for Plymouth?
It wasn´t that he didn´t want to play for Plymouth. He
wanted to play for Kitchener. He went there, we (me and his father) went there
and saw that place – locker room, rink and school. Everything was preset and he
was set to go there. He didn´t want to see other places. I had Rickard Rakell in Whalers and this year
Victor Crus Rydberg will be playing
there so I like Whalers as much as Kitchener. He was really looking for go
you get some souvenirs from Landy?
I have the All-Star Game Jersey on the wall in
the office. The year he was drafted we had top three draftees – he signed a big
picture three of them for me. Then Landeskog´s t-shirt of course. There is a Denver
guy who likes to paint sports guys in an action. This guy draw some pictures of
Landy in an action and one of them Landy signed for me and I put it in the
office as well.
point prediction for Landy in the next season?
That´s too tough to say. If he can go back to rookie
year, it would be awesome. But the main thing is that the team is taking the
next step. I think it would be great if they made playoffs. I think that´s
where the team maybe needs to be. To be able to work in long term without a
pressure from everybody outside or even inside of the organization. Get some peace
and quiet working environment. I hope it will be around playoffs spot all
the time since it is important for them. But if they made it, it is awesome,
because it draws attention, excitement of fans. It is more important that teams
makes playoffs. That´s the main goal.
are your other clients?
Victor Hedman (Tampa Bay), Patrick Berglund (St.
Blues), Jonas Brodin (Minnesota), Jacob Josefson (New Jersey), Jhonas Enroth
(Buffalo), Jacob Markstrom (Florida), Elias Lindholm (Carolina) and we have
couple of other players that are assigned of the AHL to become the NHL players.
And we have Wilhelm Westlund that
was drafted in 7th round this year by you.
you think that Westlund has a chance to play for the Avalanche in the
Yeah, that´s why they drafted him.
is a real chance for him to play for the Avs?
I don´t know. He had his first game in the
Swedish Elite league last season, now he is going to play there. Hopefully he
will play there for around half to three quarter of the season this year and
the next year it will be a full season. Once it is over we can look into how
close he is. The next two years will be very interesting and exciting to follow
where he can go. If he becomes great Swedish Elite player in the next two
years, then he has good chance in the Avalanche as well.
are his main skills?
He is a two-way defenseman, he has good sense of a
play, he can read a game very well. He is good skater and good passer. He has
decent size, he is maybe not super skilled. He has good platform on skills. He
is only 18, he has a lot of things to develop, mainly get stronger, little
you say on the public the percentage that you get off the contracts your
It is between me and the player.
do you think about MacKinnon?
I know they have very high expectations of him. They
think he is high skilled. I haven´t seen him a lot as he plays in the
juniors over there. I saw him at the World Junior Championship. He didn´t get
to play his role that he used to. It is obviously super skilled point maker,
natural goal scorer, great skater. It is big adjustment from junior to NHL. I think
the Avalanche will make room for him to succeed. It is going very interesting
to see him play at the beginning of the season. I hope he stays healthy.
David Puchovsky, Slovakia, email@example.com
09/08/2013 - 16:30