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Published May 21 2012

Advisers can play vital role in USHL process

FARGO – Whoever gets selected No. 1 overall in today’s United States Hockey League Entry Draft won’t have an endorsement deal.

They won’t be holding a jersey with their name and the No. 1 printed on the back.

But what they will have is an adviser. An adviser is someone, usually an agent, who provides guidance to a player and his family about their future.

Advisers, depending upon the situation, can play a large role in making the marriage between player and team work.

“Well, we have to talk to them,” said Fargo Force assistant and chief scout Jesse Davis. “It is just part of the business. Sometimes they help and sometimes they don’t.”

Davis said nearly every player in the USHL, the No. 1 pipeline for Division I college programs, has an adviser.

But how can players retain college eligibility and have an adviser? Also, how does one toe the line between being an adviser and an agent?

“The formal term of agent really materializes when the player turns professional,” said Ryan Ballard, who is an adviser and agent with ISA, a sports management firm. “Those are the two words we use because the NCAA rules force us to use them.”

Ballard, who has been in his role for three years, said being an adviser means facilitating a relationship between a player and a team if needed.

Most times, it’s about showing a player and his family the options they have.

USHL commissioner Skip Prince said his only hope for an adviser is that they help a player make the right decision.

The decision is: Does a player go the USHL/NCAA route, or do they forgo college and try to fast track it to the NHL by playing major juniors?

“It starts with a knowledge gap a lot of parents have,” Prince said. “When you have youngsters who decide they want to be hockey players, it then becomes about getting them from Point A to Point B.”

Getting to those points is where an adviser comes in.

They’ll speak with junior and college coaches about their clients. The hope is to generate enough interest so their client gets a step closer to the ultimate goal: The NHL.

“The expectation is, on the agent side is that they have spent so much time giving advice and guidance, they will be with that agent when they turn pro,” Ballard said. “But between the time you first get with a player and the time they go pro, there isn’t any money that goes to the adviser.”

NCAA rules state if a family has hired an adviser, they must compensate an adviser in an amount equal to the services provided.

“Everyone within the hockey industry – coaches, scouts, GMs – in every league knows what is going on,” Ballard said. “They know agents advise amateur players and talk to scouts for them.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Ryan S. Clark at (701) 241-5548.

Clark’s Force blog can be found

at slightlychilled.areavoices.com