by Jason Nadeau
In my last article series, ‘So What If Your Coach Hates You” (Nov 22nd), I argued that it is important to focus on controlling what you can actually control: how you can get better, grow as a player and improve your skill set in the time that you have left. I think that this is still sound advice for any level of development. However, the realities are that at some point, you will have exhausted all of your patience, chances and / or false promises from the Team. It is time to explore moving on, it is time to ask for a TRADE!
I’m not going to bore you with a textbook seminar on negotiation and mediation, I’ll focus on the options you have and when it is best to implement them.
The one thing that people do not realize is that this can very much be like breaking up with your wife or long time partner. As funny as that sounds, both parties have put significant amounts or blood, sweat and tears into this relationship and letting go and moving on may not be easy for some. The outcome can depend entirely on the GM or Coach with whom you are negotiating. Is he an even tempered and fair minded person or a ‘Napoleon Complex’ type who let’s you know in no uncertain terms that it is “his way or the highway”!? Does he actually care about your development or is it all business? Is he a scorched earth kinda person? Lastly, does he prefer intimidation and yelling or more civilized consensus based discussion?
Having dealt with Coaches and Management in 17 Countries from NHL GM’s to Swedish Eliteserien Directors of Player Personnel, and having actually been a minor professional Coach myself, I know that things are never cut and dry. And to be honest, in 90%+ of instances, most negotiations or player discussions are dealt with directly, reasonably fairly as there aren’t a lot of surprises. When a Player isn’t playing well or up to expectations or is stuck in a secondary role that limits his development and statistical production, EVERYONE knows this fact and no one is blindsided by the desire for change from either party.
The problems arise in two instances. First, when either the management or player has a totally different view of reality. Second, when the ego’s involved are totally disproportionate to the importance of the situation.
These types of scenarios when combined with the temperament and negotiating styles of the Management drastically affect your approach to a Trade.
Asking for a Trade
If the main reason to leave is to be closer to home or another such personal reason, it is better to be up front about it from the beginning, those types of trades can and should be sorted out with little difficulty if you are sincere and properly explain your reasoning. I will focus on the situations where you just need to move on for a change of scenery for professional reasons.
Having exhausted all other options, the next step is to approach your coach or manager and have a candid discussion. Ideally, you would outline all the previous steps you had taken to improve your place on the team but that it was just not working and better if both parties moved in different directions.
Now I would recommend that you be as flexible for the club as possible in finding them a fair return on their investment. Ideally, you would communicate that you will not go public with your desires and would prefer to continue practicing and playing as hard as possible while they explored options so as to maximize their leverage and your trade value.
At this point, even though you have irreconcilable differences you have demonstrated that you are being reasonable and accommodating as possible out of respect for the Manager and the Team. If he is still talking to you at this point and is willing to consider your desires it would be a good time to give him a list of potential destinations that you would prefer but make it clear that you are not holding out nor demanding outrageous concessions.
In a perfect scenario you would keep an open dialogue and he would take the appropriate amount of time to make a deal that works for you and the club.
Some might say that this is a dream world scenario, but respect and direct communication where both parties know exactly what they want and what the other parties’ expectations are usually leads to a positive outcome.
In all honesty, about 50% of the times that I have had to help a player in requesting a trade, we have been able to work things out in this manner. Unfortunately, in the other 50% of instances, personality traits and hurt feelings have resulted in a more adversarial process.
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