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The Hockey News
12/19/2006 4:15:05 PM

For the second time in a month, a high-profile NHL player has fired his agent and will have a member of his family run his business affairs.

Just weeks after Alex Ovechkin fired Don Meehan and announced that his parents would be handling his affairs, San Jose Sharks superstar Joe Thornton has left well-known agent J.P. Barry. Thornton's brother, John, who had previously worked with Barry, is in the process of being certified by the NHL Players' Association and will represent Thornton.

The firings bring into question whether or not top-end players, most of whom are automatically paid 20 per cent of the team's salary cap, are finding that they don't need their agents.

''I don't think that's the case at all,'' said Pat Morris of Newport Sports. ''I think this is a couple of isolated circumstances that don't represent a trend. There are always going to be isolated circumstances. Some players think they can do their own deals, but when you heard what (Toronto Blue Jays catcher) Gregg Zaun had to say about representing himself, it can be a disaster.''

Thornton made the decision to leave Barry recently after Barry and his partner, Pat Brisson, left the IMG agency to join Creative Artists. IMG, a superpower in the athletic representation business, has basically pulled out of the four major professional sports to concentrate on other endeavors.

NHLPA by-laws state whenever a certified agent leaves an agency, all of the players he represents must sign a new standard player-agent contract. Thornton did not re-sign with Barry and will go with his brother, who was with Barry and Brisson at IMG, but did not follow them to Creative Artists.

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