INSIDE THE MIND OF NHL AGENT RICK VALETTEArticle / By Treadstone Rick Valette, certified NHLPA agent, has over 30 years of hockey experience. A Saskatchewan native, and member of the World Curling Tour, Valette began his career with the Prince Albert Raiders of the Western Hockey League. During the span of eight seasons, Rick served as Governor, CEO, and General Manager. Rick was fortunate in these years to be introduced to a wide range of people, including those in the agency industry, thus piquing his interest in the profession. After resigning from the Raiders in 2001, Valette received countless offers in the agency business, eventually deciding to join Octagon Sports Group. Fast forward to today, Rick is celebrating his 18th year with Octagon. An early morning riser, Rick stresses the importance of communication in his business. Having connections throughout the world, whether that be with players, teams or other agents, Valette prides himself on being easily accessible and accommodating to his clients regardless of where they reside in the world. Throughout his career, Rick has been fortunate to produce top-end talent, from players like Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Ryan Murray, Jake DeBrusk, and a variety of other NHL athletes. When bringing on players, Valette provides not only his many years of hockey experience to young kids, but also access to an expansive network that he has built throughout his years. Valette comments that “lots of parents and families have to navigate through the hockey world from a very young age.” “It is comforting for them that we have the experience and are able to provide them with the answers to the various questions and needs that they have.” Rick elaborated on the process for players in an unrestricted free agent scenario and their mindset when deciding on a place to play: “Players want to win, that’s the important thing. You can make a list of five things that play a factor to where players want to go; community, where their kids go to school, job security, and of course compensation. But at the end of the day players want to win.” He continues that “marketing opportunities may play a small factor for players, especially when looking at the Canadian markets or larger ones in the States, however it doesn’t make a large enough impact on their decision.” In our conversation, we discussed the idea of marketing junior hockey players at a young age. He expressed that “you can absolutely market junior players, they’re all eligible to have car or memorabilia deals. We’ve marketed players before their drafts! I remember we got Ryan [Nugent-Hopkins] his first car deal when he was only 15 years old. These days we’ve seen a significant shift in marketing because of social media.” “The world today allows the opportunity to market virtually anyone.” Due to the global pandemic, Valette has found himself having to pivot his business and is much more active on the phone or in virtual meetings. He starts his calls at the whopping hour of 5 am, starting in the Eastern time zones and working towards the West. Residing in High River, Alberta, Rick spends his days enjoying the peaceful small town and alternates his working hours between his house and the office.