Agent Ilya Moliver: “Kabanov’s problem is his father” (Photo © saintjohnseadogs.com)
As widely reported in the last few days, and his agent JP Barry parted ways. “I wish Kirill all the best”, Barry told The Hockey News. “It just wasn’t a fit. We advised him to seek other representation.”
The collaboration between Kabanov and Barry (whose agency works with, for example, Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Sergei Gonchar) lasted a few months only. They helped Kabanov in the preparation toward the upcoming NHL Draft and the NHL Draft Combine. But they refused to work with him any longer.
Before Barry there were three agents with whom Kabanov had parted ways, Don Meehan (and his Russian representative Sergei Isakov), Jay Grossman and Scott Greenspun (Alexei Kovalev’s agent).
Russian popular newspaper Sovietskiy Sport had an interview with Russian agent Ilya Moliver, who works for Jay Grossman’s agency. Some of his clients are Ilya Kovalchuk, Nikolai Khabibulin and Pekka Rinne.
RussianHockeyFans.com offers you a translation.
Moliver: “Kirill isn’t to be blamed. It’s hard to find a common language with his father. He doesn’t understand the role of the agent.”
In what sense?
Moliver: “Sergei Kabanov believes that an agent is a player’s servant. He doesn’t know how to communicate with people. In view of this, he incorrectly educates Kirill. Kabanov is a nice guy. He is very curious, he likes computers. When Alexei Cherepanov, who was our client, passed away, he sent us a text message: ‘Please, call me. We are mourning.’ But the dad…”
What about him?
Moliver: “I’ve told Kirill once: ‘You have to choose. We either work with you or with your dad.’ Kabanov’s dad is hard to please. I work with players and their parents since 1992, and I never had to deal with such a complicated person.”
Do you have any example?
Moliver: “I’m driving my car with my wife. Sergei Kabanov calls me and starts reprimanding me: ‘Where have you gone? Why don’t you call?’ Though we talked licterally one day before.
Sometimes I tell him: ‘Sergei, let’s work quietly. And sign with us an official contract.’ He’s always saying that Grossman’s agency represents his son’s interests, but officially it wasn’t so. It turned out that he had several agents at the same time. And as a result, it’s a big mess.
One day I bought some sticks for Kirill. I spent agency’s money to gratify the kid. But he didn’t like the curve. And thus his father started scolding me like I bought a left handed stick instead of a right one. A delirium.”
But is Kirill talented after all?
Moliver: “When we just started working together, Sergei told me: ‘My son is considerably better than Kovalchuk, Ovechkin and Malkin at 16.’ Why all this arrogance? This can only spoil the kid. And I understand why scouts and agents changed the attitude towars Kabanov. Because Kirill isn’t progressing as he should, but the guilty ones are the ones surrounding him. They didn’t help him to get on to the world. What can you do when you have a stone wall in Sergei Kabanov?”
History knows similar examples. They say that Eric Lindros had a crazy father-agent.
Moliver: “I know Carl [Lindros]. He’s a nice fellow. But excuse me, Kabanov isn’t Lindros! Eric was coming to the NHL as a second Gretzky or Lemieux. Kirill is far from being the top pick of the draft. He isn’t even the best among Russians. And he isn’t listed as first rounder.”
And he was once called the possible first overall pick for the 2010 Draft!
Moliver: “A couple of years ago I visited a tournament in London, Ontario, and Kirill played great. Elegant, intelligent, he made beautiful rushes to the net. It was evident that the guy can play. The fans were crazy about him and he became the top contender for the first overall pick. But what can you do when you have so much pressure from your father? And Kirill himself has a talent to get into awkward situations.”
In Russia people were outraged by Kabanov’s words when he said ‘I want to change citizenship. I don’t need this country.’
Moliver: “This wasn’t wise. I live in America for 20 years. But I still have Russian citizenship. Many emigrants still cheer for Russian teams, for Russian national team. You can’t part ways with your motherland. This statement from Kabanov was foolish. They kicked you from the national team? Do the right conclusions: ‘It means that something is wrong with me. I have to change myself to have a great career like Bure, Ovechkin, Kovalchuk…'”
What if Kirill doesn’t get drafted at all?
Moliver: “Some team will risk and try to get a good person out of him. That’s in case his dad comes to his senses. I’m not saying that Kirill must work with Grossman’s Agency. But Kabanovs should change their attitude toward life. ”
This situation is well described by this popular American saying: ‘You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.’ You can’t say it better.”