The bond between player and agent runs deep. The symbiotic connection created between player and agent is extremely unique, intriguing, and complex.
Mention the word agent and everyone imagines ruthless, mean spirited, fast talking, charismatic, business savvy, and fiercely loyal fictitious characters like “Jerry Maguire” or “Ari Gold” from the “Entourage”.
“Show me the money” automatically consumes and clouds people’s perceptions and judgements when it comes to the world of sports agents.
You see that couldn’t be farther from the truth for Bryan Dubé and Egor Sokolov. The bond between Dubé and Sokolov was forged with a shared belief and a dream.
Their bond truly transcends the game.
Loyalty, integrity, honesty, passion, compassion, and an unwavering sense of pride and trust accurately describe their relationship. Business is business, but when it comes to Sokolov and Dubé it goes much deeper than that.
“I think that our relationship is really open,” Sokolov said.
“We mean business when we have to, but at the same time we have fun when we are supposed to,” admitted Sokolov.
“We talk about everything not just hockey, and we are always straight with each other,” said the highly skilled Russian power forward.
To say that Dubé and Sokolov have been through a lot, would be an understatement. The ups and downs of Major Junior hockey can be felt at the best of times.
“There’s been tough times for both of us,” confessed Sokolov.
“We always believed in each other and knew that our hard work would pay off at some point,” explained Sokolov.
“My relationship with Egor started approximately three years ago. We have gone through the high and lows of the hockey business,” admitted Dubé.
“In the past three years not only have we been player-agent partners, but our friendship has grown to consider ourselves part of each other’s family.”
“From day one, I believed in him and his ambitions and never doubted him and although being a smaller named agent working with a boutique style firm, Egs has shown the same belief in me,” explained Dubé.
“We both know we each have a job to do and we let each other do it, knowing it will get done,” Dubé added.
“As we all know, Egor was overlooked two years in a row for the NHL draft despite having a very good rookie season in the Q and an even better 2nd season.”
“Part of my job is finding out why.”
“The feedback was always the same,” said Dubé.
“They always said ‘he has the skill, the talent and size, but his skating is on the down side and we question his commitment to being in better shape and his work ethic,’” stressed Dubé.
“Although not being drafted in either year, he was still invited to the Columbus Blue Jackets Training Camp where he fared well, but still the same feedback was provided.”
Dubé and Sokolov had a heart to heart during the off-season a year ago. They both realized the 2019-2020 campaign would be a difference maker. It’s cliché, but they decided to approach the year one day at a time.
“Egor and I had a chat and we discussed what he truly wanted with hockey and we set forth a plan.”
“Egor was committed on improving his skating, lowering his weight and proving to everyone that doubted him that he can play at the next level.
Sokolov’s path in the game has certainly played out like a well written drama. “Before my last season in QMJHL it was just like a new page in my book, we took it day by day, and had the right mind set.”
“It paid off,” stressed Sokolov.
“Egor has come along way since arriving in North America. From not speaking a word of English to learning how to the play the North American style and our customs.”
“Ashley and Kyle Ryan have been the best billet “mom and dad” you could ever ask for,” said Dubé.
“They opened their house to him, supported him and helped him in many ways become the player he is today.”
Through all the adversity Sokolov persevered. “From being told he’s too slow, out of shape and won’t make it to the next level, Egor fought the “nay-sayers” by proving it on the ice.”
“Egor learned from past criticism and took the high road to make himself better as a player and person.”
“With that attitude, there’s no doubt in my mind that Egs will be successful as a hockey player and a human being,” Dubé said.
Bryan Dubé never lost hope. He always believed in his client’s talent and potential. “There’s been up and downs in his career, but not once has he let that get him down.”
“Egor worked his rear end off and now it’s paying dividends.”
“I witnessed his attitude all along.”
“Seeing the success he has had doesn’t surprise me at all.”
“Egor wants it.”
“He’s willing to make the little sacrifices needed to make the step to the next level,” explained Dubé.
“He reads the game and learns it every day. Egor has learned that if you want to be a professional athlete, you must do all the little things that will help you get there.”
“We worked on a plan to help him realize his dream, he believed in that plan and has put the time in the gym, in his eating habits and on the ice and even if the Ottawa Senators door is open, he still needs to step in with both feet, which will come, as long as he keeps trusting the process,” Dubé said.
“We are able to discuss not only hockey topics, but any general topic.”
“We have a deep respect for our different cultures and we want success for each other,” Dubé said of the bond between he and Sokolov.
“I’m extremely proud of him,” said an emotional Dubé.
The game of hockey has a unique way of connecting people and families from all across the world. The shared bond and vested interest in Sokolov’s journey in the game and ultimate dream to play in the National Hockey League continues to touch everyone lives. What does it mean to Sokolov to have Dubé and his family in his life?
“It definitely means a lot to me.”
“Carolynn and the kids are awesome.”
“She always supports me, and I think it’s pretty awesome for me as well just have them around, and being able to share moments together,” Sokolov said.
What separates Dubé from other agents in the game? “I think it’s the kind of person he is,” Sokolov said.
“Bryan is always there working hard for you, he tells you the way it is, he talks straight to you.”
“If I made any mistakes he would mention that to me.”
“Egor will probably point out I’m not one to give many compliments, but when it’s warranted I’ll dish them out,” Dubé said.
“Bryan doesn’t like giving the compliments, but sometimes he does,” Sokolov said jokingly.
Their incredible bond continues to grow. “We always talk,” Sokolov said.
“Bryan always provides me with advice and information to make me better and improve.”
“We work as a team, and it pays off for both of us,” Sokolov said.
How hard has Dubé fought over the years behind the scenes?
“Bryan has done lots of things for me.”
“I really appreciate what Bryan does.”
“Right now our focus is to keep working.”
“It’s my first year in pro and we are both looking forward to it.”
The Ottawa Senators continue to build on a very bright future by making quality draft picks and signing key impact free agents. “Egor has worked extremely hard and continues to work hard at his goal of playing in the NHL,” said Mann.
“Egor is ready for the next challenge which is to score at the pro level. His work ethic and commitment to get there will never be in question,” stressed Ottawa Senators Chief Amateur Scout Trent Mann.
Cape Breton based photographer Sean O’Connell captured Sokolov and Dubé’s bond perfectly seconds after he was selected by the Senators at his draft party at the beautiful Flavor on the Water.
“It meant a lot for me,” said Sokolov of sharing his NHL Draft experience with so many people.
“Obviously I would have loved to have my parents there, but we made most of it, we had them on a Zoom call.”
“It was just awesome to share that day with my billet family, Bryan, Carolynn and everyone that was there.”
“It was extra special for me because all of them helped me during my journey,” Sokolov said.
“Egor and I share a special bond due to the fact that we have the same approach, same qualities and expectations not only in life, but in hockey.”
“We believe and trust each other and we’re loyal to the game we both love and to each other,” stressed a reflective Dubé.
Dubé compares their relationship to that of his other career as a Moncton City Firefighter.
“We have each other’s back.”
“It’s like being a firefighter and going into a burning building, you’re the hose man and he’s the rescue man, the guy right behind you, waiting to go in with you.”
“As you look back and he looks forward, you know you can always rely on that person to get the job done,” said Dubé proudly.
Sokolov’s journey in the game and life is truly remarkable. Tough love or brutal honesty, call it what you want, Dubé certainly possesses a wonderful eye for talent and an innate ability to get the most out of his clients.
“I’ve always reminded clients or even potential clients that are uncertain about their representation to make sure the fit is right for you and not what others are doing.”
“I make sure to tell them to decide to go with someone who believes in you for the right reasons,” Dubé said.
“You shouldn’t just be a number.”
“Everyone has different needs and wants, it’s the agent’s responsibility to figure that out and make it about you and no one else,” stressed Dubé.
“Egor and I have that bond and it’s something I strive to have with all my other clients,” Dubé said.
“Bryan promotes a solid relationship with his clients,” said Mann.
“He promotes their strengths while working with them in the background on the areas that need to be addressed,” explained Mann.
“Their bond isn’t just a player-agent bond, it’s much bigger than that, it is a friendship,” said Sokolov’s billet mother Ashley Ryan.
“Egor and Bryan’s bond is one that I truly believe will never be broken.”
“They have a level of trust and respect for each other that is apparent to anyone who knows them.”
“Bryan has been there for Egor and on his side for every situation life has thrown at him over the past few years,” explained Ryan.
“He has been the extra ear to listen. He is the one that will say what needs to be said even when Egor doesn’t want to hear it.”
“Bryan will always do and fight for what is best for Egor, and what will make him happy.”
“Their bond is incredible and, in many ways, indescribable,” Ryan said.