On the latest episode of New England Hockey Journal’s RinkWise podcast, Kirk Luedeke is joined by local agent Kent Hughes.
Hughes, who hails from Montreal, Quebec, serves as managing director of Quartexx Management. His two sons, Riley and Jack, play Division 1 at Northeastern University. Riley is a junior and Jack is a freshman.
In addition to his work on the business side of the sport, Hughes coaches the Boston Junior Eagles 16-U, alongside Milton Acadamy’s Paul Cannata (West Roxbury, Mass.), who joined RinkWise last month.
With fall hockey season in full swing, Hughes joins the show to discuss his roots, what he looks for in players to represent, his thoughts on development, specializataion and more.
Due to his experience at all levels of the game from several different perspectives, Hughes shared his thoughts on plans for players to reach their goals.
“I guess that depends on what age level of hockey player we’re talking about but there’s certainly certain things that I’ve seen both as a coach, as an advisor, even to a degree as an agent, that stand out to me,” Hughes said.
“One, I think young hockey players shouldn’t be afraid to dream big. My experience is they dream big yet because everything’s so public today with social media and everything else, there’s also this reluctance to dream big because of fear of failure. And I think it’s important for players to be able to go out and embrace that challenge without fear of failing. It’s OK to fail. That doesn’t mean you should be afraid of chasing that dream.
“Enjoying the ride is critical, too. It can’t be a zero-sum game. It has to be something that you’re enjoying the process of, not just trying to get to the end result.”
Another aspect of development that Hughes pointed out is the importance of understanding what the game entails as you move up the ranks.
“It is mental Olympics. It’s very challenging and you have to be prepared for what is involved. (You have to) train yourself to handle adversity and I think in this generation we probably don’t do a great job of that at the young levels. As a result, some of these players, they’re not prepared for it,” Hughes said.
“If you want to do it, be mindful. I feel like there’s so much of the ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ in the hockey world. There’s no one path, there’s no singular timeframe that everybody has to be on to get there and a little bit of patience and confidence would certainly remove a lot of the stress that players and families feel.”
For some players that exude those types of qualities that Hughes listed above, look no further than Quartexx Management’s list of clients, which includes NHL stars such as Patrice Bergeron, Taylor Hall, Kris Letang, Mitch Marner and more.
“There’s a competitiveness, no question, that you see in elite athletes. Certainly, in that group of players, it’s a competitiveness to win and, because they function within a group, a competitiveness to be the best that they can be,” Hughes said.
“(They have) an understanding of what’s involved in that, too, in terms of the discipline to do what they need to do to prepare themselves, and (also) just having the mental aptitude and strength to deal with the pressures and ups and downs of sport.”
Hughes spoke further on Bergeron, in particular, a Stanley Cup champion and future Hall of Famer in his 19th NHL season, all with the Boston Bruins.
“More than anything else, he is probably as mentally equipped for professional sports as — forget about hockey — I would think he’s in the top-1 percent of all athletes in that regard. And it isn’t something that he turned on when he arrived at pro sports. He took that with him.
“He played Midget hockey in Quebec, and he had two players on his team, I believe, go No. 1 and 3 overall in the QMJHL Draft that year and, I believe, he was a fifth-round pick. He and his parents actually made the decision that he was probably best to return to Midget hockey, that he wasn’t ready for that. That goes back to my comment earlier about not worrying about keeping up with the Joneses, he had his path and he was capable of understanding who he was and saying “this is the right next step for me and my development. I’m not worried about what everyone else is doing and I’m not worried that if I don’t do this then I can’t get there.
“We advance two years from the Quebec league draft and those two-player were first-round picks in the NHL, but the gap had clearly shrunk and Patrice was a second-round pick. He came to camp and was probably as ready as anybody for an 18-year-old kid. But, again, he knew what he needed for himself to be successful.”
For more from Kent Hughes on his experiences in hockey, what it takes to find success at the higher levels, Patrice Bergeron and more, listen to the full podcast today.
RinkWise is brought to you by Sacred Heart University, University of Nebraska High School and Bruce Haas’ “Great Game!: D-1 College Hockey: People, Places, Perspectives.”