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NHL Notebook: NHLPA opens conflict of interest investigation surrounding Kyle Dubas and Carolina Hurricanes swept in in conference finals for third straight time

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Photo credit:Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports
Zach Laing
9 months ago
The NHL’s Player Association has opened an investigation into former Toronto Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas and his agent at the Wasserman agency for a potential violation of the Certified Agent regulations that govern agent activity.
Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli first reported news of the investigation. 
In recent negotiations with the Maple Leafs, Dubas was represented by Chris Armstrong of Wasserman Sports — the same agency that also represents Auston Matthews, Seravalli reported.
Here’s some details, as he reported, about the investigation:
NHLPA Certified Agent regulations prohibit agents from representing and providing services to any officer or employee of an NHL club. Armstrong is not currently an NHL certified agent and therefore not subject to discipline by the NHLPA; Armstrong is predominantly a golf agent and represents professional golfers Tony Finau and Cameron Champ, among others, for Wasserman.
The question for the NHLPA to determine: Are agents working for the same agency, but in a different division or arm of the firm, also prohibited from representing hockey executives on the other side of the table?
Multiple NHL certified agents at rival agencies say the issue is cut and dried.
By the letter of the law in the NHLPA Certified Agent regulations, the rule seems to apply only to certified agents, not the entirety of their agency. The text is as follows: “Agents are prohibited from … representing, providing services to, either directly or indirectly, or engaging in or proposing to engage in business ventures with … any officer, employee or independent contractor of an NHL Club, other Professional Hockey Club or Canadian Major Junior Hockey Club or any other entity affiliated with any of the foregoing, including but not limited to coaches, general managers, scouts and locker room personnel.

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Do the ‘Canes need a superstar?

After a good showing through the first two rounds of the postseason beating both the New York Islanders and the New Jersey Devils, the Carolina Hurricanes fell flat on their face in the Eastern Conference Finals.
For Carolina, it continued a troubling trend of failure in the conference finals. Since they beat the Buffalo Sabres to advance to the cup finals that they won in 2006, they have appeared in three conference finals out east.
They have zero wins to show for it.
In 2008-09, they were swept by the Pittsburgh Penguins.
In 2018-19, it was the Boston Bruins who dispatched them in four games.
Last night, the Florida Panthers completed their sweep of the Hurricanes.
Over at Daily Faceoff, Matt Larkin opined that their lack of a true superstar is an issue for the club.
Ask around the league – other players, coaches, scouts, analysts – about the Carolina Hurricanes’ identity in the Brind’Amour era, and you typically get similar answers:
“They all play the same way.”
“Total buy-in.”
“They keep coming at you in waves.”
The Brind’Amour Way has pretty much universally been perceived as a strength, but it also highlights a weakness that was on display during the Eastern Conference Final: the Canes don’t have a dominator who can will them to victory, particularly at the forward position.
And that includes the injured Andrei Svechnikov and Max Pacioretty, by the way. Both are great players, and Svechnikov still has time to hit a superstar ceiling, but we can’t say the Canes have had a superstar during the Brind’Amour era. Over the past five seasons, the Canes…
(a) Haven’t had a 40-goal scorer
(b) Haven’t had a 90-point scorer
(c) Haven’t had a single player crack the top 15 in league scoring
The no-superstar drought extends much further than that, actually. No Cane has finished in the top 10 in scoring since Eric Staal in 2012-13. Staal in 2005-06 is the only Cane this century to crack 100 points – or 90 points. No Carolina/Hartford player has ever won a scoring title, Hart Trophy, Vezina Trophy or Norris Trophy.
The Canes embody the concept of a team as much as any franchise in the NHL. It’s a big reason why they’re so consistently successful. But they won’t get over the Stanley Cup hump until they add a genuine game breaker. That’s GM Don Waddell’s job.

Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at zach@thenationnetwork.com.

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