When you think of a sports agent, the first thing that comes to mind for most people is movie character Jerry Maguire.
Big cities, big money, big egos, living in New York, London, L.A., Toronto… and Steinbach?
Yes, Steinbach, Manitoba. The small city of roughly 16,000 people, 65 kms outside of Winnipeg.
That is where NHLPA agent Ray Petkau lives.
“It’s an interesting combination,” Petkau said. “NHL agent in Steinbach, Manitoba of all places.”
Petkau’s name might not sound familiar. However, his client list is one hockey fans know well.
It includes Winnipeg Jets star Connor Hellebuyck, newly signed Laurent Brossoit, Eddie Lack from the New Jersey Devils and James Reimer from the Florida Panthers.
“James Reimer’s been a longtime client. I actually discovered him in a tournament in Steinbach,” Petkau said.
“It was actually a church tournament and I discovered him and started working with him when he was quite young actually and so that was before he played in the Western League.”
For Petkau it’s all about the full experience on and off the ice. He likes to think of the group as one big family. It’s a sentiment that many of his clients also echoed.
“He just cares so much about us and all his clients and he makes sure we’re well taken care of,” Hellebuyck told Global News. “It’s almost become a little family.”
Petkau represents 12 NHL contracted players and about two dozen players in total and most of his roster consists of goalies. Goalie development and off-season training has become a specialty for his team.
Hellebuyck became a client of his last year and this past off-season he negotiated the star goalie’s new six-year, $37-million contract.
“I love getting involved with the guys and having that relationship. When Connor signed, maybe not surprising to anyone that knows Connor, he agreed to the contract on a day he was on the ice skating in Winnipeg,” Petkau said.
“He was here for a teammate’s wedding. He didn’t come to sign a contract, it just worked out that way with the timing.”
Signing that multi-million dollar deal also left the two with a laugh and joke about who would be picking up the tab at the celebration dinner.
“It was a fun moment. The actual signing itself, in that case, he signed in a corner stall in the dressing room before he showered,” Petkau said. “He was dripping sweat. It’s not always this big moment that maybe you’d imagine when you sign a deal worth $37 million.”
“The day he signed I said he was going to pick up the tab when we went out in Kelowna … and he certainly did.”
While being an agent isn’t quite like the movies, and definitely not like Jerry Maguire, Petkau said his clients do love to poke fun at him.
“Eddie Lack gave me a good ‘show me the money’ moment a short time ago. He was grinding my gears.”