Friday, July 13, 2007

Danger Zone

Pittsburgh wasted little time keeping their little nugget close to the steel city. Sid "the Kid" Crosby signed an extension with the Penguins to stay in Pitt until 2013. As Crosby puts pen to paper in western Pennsylvania, many here in the nation's capital are shooting an eye at the Caps management hoping for some kind of extension offered to Alex Ovechkin.

Then this week Ovie revealed that he has no agent at the moment and is talking to management on his own. Not that this is unusual, but it teeters on a very dangerous line of legality. The fact that Ovie does not have representation and the contract no doubt will be in a legal tone of English could lead to problems down the road.

I am not saying that Uncle Ted or GMGM are trying to pull one over on Ovie, but as a lawyer friend pointed out to me, here is a kid whose first language is not English and he is negotiating with a team of lawyers and career deal makers that know how to hide clauses and explain traps away in order to get the contract signed. That could be a recipe for disaster.

A single misunderstanding because Ovie doesn't understand the meaning of the word reciprocity could spell disaster. "If the Capitals were smart," my lawyer friend continued, "they should have someone independent to look over the contract before anyone signs."

Here is the thing, lawyers think like lawyers. There is no common sense clause or we-will-deal-with-that-later or "you will have to just trust me" statements. Every base is covered and every legal step is taken to protect the team. If Ovie is left exposed, he could be spun into a misunderstanding about what he was promised and what was signed.

While I believe that some agents are a complete scumbags, the more and more I realize that it's not that bad of an idea for someone trying to navigate the world of foreign legal systems. If I were to sign a contract in Italy after only spending a year there and learning the language, I may want to get some one to give that contract a good once over that was a) knowledgeable of contracts in Italy's courts and b) speaks Italian fluently.

I am sure there is a lot of good faith on both sides and there is little to worry about. It just makes me squirm a bit to think that if there is a way for the Capitals to screw it up, they just might.

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