Tag: Ritch Winter

Ilya Bryzgalov

Bryzgalov’s agent talks about client’s iffy future in Philly


Ilya Bryzgalov’s future in Philadelphia is in doubt, that much we know.

After seeing Mark Streit agree to a lucrative new deal with the Flyers and Danny Briere bought out out of the final two years of his contract, Bryzgalov might be the next to be paid to go away.

Bryzgalov’s agent, Ritch Winter, tells Sportsnet 960 in Calgary (via Frank Servalli of Philly.com – worth a read as he tears the duo apart) that Flyers GM Paul Holmgren will give him a heads up if something is going down.

“Paul has also been candid enough to say, ‘Never say never. I don’t know what I’m going to be offered at some point, so I’m not going to guarantee you anything, except that I will give you plenty of warning if I do so,’ ” Winter told Sportsnet radio.

So what if, as the Flyers decide to keep him around? Winter says his client is up for the challenge.

“At the end of the day, he would rather look face-first into that storm and face the challenge and make the changes necessary for the goaltending to be part of the success Philadelphia has, rather than run away from it. Ilya Bryzgalov is a lot of things, but he’s not afraid of a challenge.”

Safe to say the Philly drama is only just starting to pick up. The next couple weeks should be a real hoot.

Cody Hodgson still isn’t saying whether he asked to be traded or not

Cody Hodgson

Ever since Cody Hodgson was dealt from Vancouver to Buffalo, the question has been about whether or not Hodgson asked to be traded. Hodgson’s agent Ritch Winter has been saying that Hodgson never asked to be moved, albeit in confusing ways at times, and Hodgson himself seemed stunned that he was moved.

With the Sabres in Vancouver to take on the Canucks tonight, it makes for an awkward reunion and one where Hodgson had to make it very clear that what happened at the deadline was not thanks to his doing. Well, as clear as he could anyhow. John Vogl of The Buffalo News has the details.

“Like I told many guys beforehand, I was as shocked as anybody,” Hodgson said. “But I don’t want to go back. Even when I played here the whole time I never went back and thought of readdressing old issues and that kind of stuff. I just wanted to go play, and that’s what I want to do now. I’ve got a new team with Buffalo and good guys, and hopefully things will work out.”

Why would he want to go back? Aside from that whole “make a run at the Stanley Cup” thing Vancouver has going for them, Hodgson is playing in Buffalo’s top six and getting a ton of ice time (average of 17:08 in his two games).

Compare that to Vancouver where he was playing on the third line and averaging just over 12 minutes a game. Add to it that they already seem to love Hodgson in Buffalo, and it makes a ton of sense for him. Maybe now this story can fade away. All bets are off though if Hodgson scores the game-winner tonight.

Prominent NHL player agent gets in blog war…with blogger

cody hodgson getty

Ritch Winter is a sports agent that represents over 70 NHL players through The Sports Corporation. One of his clients, Cody Hodgson, is having a fine rookie season for the Canucks, though there has been some consternation among Vancouver media types about his ice time (or lack thereof.)

This was discussed in a blog appearing on the Vancouver Sun’s website, with the headline “Hodgson seems happy with his icetime (sic); who isn’t?” The piece suggests Winter fed local reporters the requisite ammo to go after Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault — the guy responsible for Hodgson’s (alleged) lack of ice time.

Problem? Said blogger, Daniel Wagner, didn’t reach out to Winter.

Bigger problem? That infuriated Winter.

As such, Winter responded with a 6,400-word missive tearing into Wagner’s piece. An excerpt:

Wagner speculates about the reason for the Vancouver fan and media’s attention to Cody Hodgson’s ice time when he states: “The most likely candidate is Winter, particularly when you consider Gallagher’s comments near the end that Hodgson’s agency group has been ‘way more than patient.’”

In fact, every time Tony [Gallagher, of the Vancouver Province] and I speak I am surprised at how much angst Cody’s ice-time is causing him. In fact, my reaction to his concerns was all Tony was talking about. Nothing more. Nothing less. But, Wagner never called Tony or me to check on that and went on to make a mountain out of a bag of pucks.

Many of the staff at the Vancouver Sun have my number. They know how to reach me. Wagner knows how to find my number. And everyone knows I am accessible to the media. Maybe too much so historically. Instead of calling me, Wagner builds his article off of a theory. A theory I knew nothing about and which could not be true without that being the case. And all of this without calling me. Why? No one knows. I don’t. He never called.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen a player agent go public with his grievances (hello, Alan Walsh!) and it probably won’t be the last. That said, we’ve now entered some exciting uncharted territory, skipping over the traditional “Blogger vs. Mainstream Media” battle right into the “Blogger vs. Player Agent” war. Can’t wait to see how this turns out.

Related: Wagner has since posted his response to Winter’s response. We’re two more responses away from Godwin’s law, I can feel it.

Canucks prospect Cody Hodgson gets instruction from… Claude Lemieux?!

Cody Hodgson
1 Comment

Canucks fans are excited to have young rookie prospect Cody Hodgson eventually leave his mark on the NHL in the form of being the latest scoring stud in Vancouver. After all, the Canucks have had guys like Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin, and Ryan Kesler emerge under their watch and the one thing a loaded team needs is yet another weapon to throw out on the ice.

Hodgson had his troubles cracking the Canucks lineup last year with the team being as loaded up as they were and with the center position having as much talent as they did, Alain Vigneault opted to not go with Hodgson very often when injuries interrupted the team’s flow. This year, Hodgson is looking to make the Canucks main roster and stay there all year and he’s looking for an edge to do that. Who better to ask for tips than Claude Lemieux, right?

Uh… Wait, that Claude Lemieux? You bet it is and Tony Gallagher of The Vancouver Province has the story on how a legendary agitator is lending a hand to a potential rising star.

Lemieux is involved with a company called 4Star which works with and represents athletes, and they’ve established a working arrangement with Hodgson’s agent, Ritch Winter’s Sports Corporation, to help their hockey clients. Hodgson is one of the higher-profile players to have this type of help.

“We’ve had a number of discussions with the coaches and management in Vancouver and we expect to talk from time to time,” said Lemieux, who is really looking forward to the new role as a substitute for playing. “Being able to help another player, to me it’s the next best thing to playing yourself and that’s something I can’t do anymore.”

“He’s helped me with quite a few things,” says Hodgson. “We’ve worked on mental preparation, footwork, shooting and places to shoot and different ways of scoring. It’s been really interesting.”

Nothing about infuriating opponents, turtling in a fight, and hitting players questionably? Come on, that’s not full bang for the buck.

Hodgson looking to get a better edge for his game and to improve his play is a great thing for a young player to want to improve on. After all, the Canucks got a great first-hand look at what a young player can do when he adds a bit of nasty to his game when they couldn’t find a way to handle Boston’s Brad Marchand in the Stanley Cup finals. That’s not to say that’s the sort of action Hodgson will add to his game, but it couldn’t hurt either.

For Hodgson, emerging as an offensive threat could help him get an opportunity to get more time on the power play and more minutes than he saw in his time with Vancouver last season. In just eight games with the Canucks last season, Hodgson averaged just 7:45 of ice time and for any player, never mind a guy who’s looking to score points, that’s just not enough time to be productive. Hodgson spent most of last season in the AHL with Manitoba. There he had 17 goals and 13 assists in 52 games. All of those numbers must improve if he’s going to be a future threat in Vancouver. Luckily for both the Canucks and Hodgson, he’s just 21 years-old.

If Hodgson is going to make the Canucks roster, having some of that Lemieux nastiness to his game will help him earn more minutes on the third and fourth lines in Vigneault’s system. If he can learn how to be effective around the net the way Lemieux was, he’ll wind up having a long and successful career. After all, getting tips from a former Conn Smythe Trophy winner isn’t the worst thing in the world.