Mark Gandler is a rather original and entertaining fellow. He is the agent for Alexei Yashin and Sean Bergenheim and others, but he wasn't all business when we'd speak. He has other interests besides hockey and he certainly has a unique view on some things. Mark always returned calls immediately and always spoke his mind. He's a reporter's dream.
But Mark sometimes doesn't do his clients any favors, as today's story in Newsday about the possibility of Yash coming back illustrates. In his public comments about teams, his players and negotiations, Mark tends to have the touch of Quentin Tarantino and the subtle voice of James Hetfield. He can be as tone-deaf as the kid at the back of a chorus scene in a junior high production of "Fiddler on the Roof."
Assuming there have been more-than-courtesy discussions between the Islanders and Gandler about Yash - an assumption we should hold judgment on until someone from the Islanders speaks to it - if I'm Mark Gandler, I consider not saying anything at all. And if I'm going to talk to a reporter, I would have gone with this:
"Yash loved his time on Long Island, enjoyed being part of the community and his relationship with the fans. His only regret was how it ended. After a year back home in Russia, he really wants to return to the Islanders. Yash told me he is willing to do anything to contribute to get them back into the playoffs and challenging for the Stanley Cup."
Instead, in his comments to Greg Logan of Newsday, Mark took a swing at the team and made it about - my God, of all things - cash.
"We've had discussions. But it's been very slow because I told them in the beginning how much I wanted. They're obviously not happy about that. But clearly, they missed him. They didn't have a first line last season."
Later on in the article, oops, he did it again.
"My premise is that he should get what his market value is ...Now, there is a new year and a new market, and if they want him, this is the price."
And then, as if Islanders fans had not been bloodied with more bullets than Sonny Corleone took at the tollbooth, Mark fired off another round:
"First, it's up to Ted whether he wants him or not, and second, it's up to Charles and Garth whether they want to pay him what we think he should get paid."
These comments do not help my friend and former colleague Alexei Yashin. However, if my friends and former colleagues at the Islanders needed an immediate market survey of their fan base, I have a feeling this will help them tremendously.
Someone can always argue that there was a method to Mark's madness with his quotes. You can definitely win the debate that Mark is infinitely wiser than me. It's only fair that I point out Mark Gandler has made more money - perhaps on Yash alone - than I may make in my lifetime.
But what's not up for debate is that Newsday - specifically, an editor at the sports desk last night - screwed up. The front page of the sports section has a box at the top that reads: "ROUND 2? Isles say they've talked to Yashin about coming back."
Geez, can somebody at the sports desk please take 5 minutes to read the frickin' article? There is not a single comment from an Islanders person in it. Logan even writes that he couldn't reach Garth Snow. This is unfair to the Islanders. More so, this is really unfair to the arteries of any Islander fans who hoped for a quiet Sunday morning.
(I will hold my opinion on Yash coming back until it actually happens. If it happens).
Sportswriters like Greg are quick to accurately point out that they do not write the headlines, editors do. This proves what we've also known for a long time: some editors don't even read the articles.