After being approached by National Hockey League agents in search of quality representation for their players overseas, former professional players Derek Bekar and Jason Krog formed their own agency in 2014 called Higher Hockey Management.
With the goal of guiding players through the tricky transition into the sport outside of North America, Higher Hockey also services European teams by finding the right players to improve their rosters.
“We felt like there was an opportunity to get into the market and make a name for ourselves,” said Krog. “We both had some sub-par experiences with European agents in the past and thought that we could be successful by doing things differently.”
Krog and Bekar spent their college careers as teammates for the University of New Hampshire before going on to play a combined 17 seasons in the NHL, American Hockey League, and several top European leagues that are now the sole focus of the agency.
“We chose to specialize in European hockey because our extensive contact list and experience overseas gives us an advantage,” said Bekar. “A large group of our former teammates in Europe are now in management or coaching positions with various European teams, so we have connections that other agencies simply do not.”
Bekar and Krog have used their experience as athletes in Europe’s highest leagues, such as the KHL, SHL, NLA, DEL, and EBEL, to expand the clientele of Higher Hockey, and the agents now represent 39 players currently occupying top European roster spots.
“Having an understanding of the level of play and quality of life in different countries helps us to place the players in the most appropriate situations where they have the best chance to succeed,” said Krog.
“Our experiences abroad with both local and imported players helped us learn where the best and worst places to play are,” added Bekar.
Some of Higher Hockey’s top talent include alumni of the NHL, such as Tom Gilbert, Nathan Gerbe, Chris VandeVelde, Mike Kostka, and Jason Bacashihua, who now occupy top roster spots thanks to the agency. Other notable clients include Jake Newton, Kevin Marshall, and Kyle MacKinnon.
“It’s very important for athletes to have official representation. Some players think they can get more money if they do it themselves, but that is not the case,” said Bekar.
“We have the network and market knowledge to find the best job for the player. Our connections will far outreach anything that a player could do on his own,” said Krog.
“Teams want our players to be happy as we have many quality players now that they continue to try and recruit from us,” added Bekar. “Teams do not want to jeopardize the relationship with us in any way, which ultimately turns out in the player’s favor.”
From reviewing contracts to fixing any situations that arise during the season, Krog and Bekar are available to their clients 24/7 and place an emphasis on the well-being of the player and his family during negotiations.
“We will make sure our clients are in the right spot where their family will be safe and happy, and where the player is given the best opportunity to have success in Europe,” said Bekar. “We will always be available throughout the season and offseason.”
“On top of all of that, we take care of everything so that the player can just focus on playing the game,” said Krog. “We genuinely care about them and their families.”
With four years behind them as agents in Europe, Higher Hockey Management, which has international offices located in Canada, Europe, and the United States, is now known as one of the most trusted representation options for athletes with the appropriate experience that will translate into success with top clubs overseas.
“Our reputation speaks for itself. Just ask any of our past or present clients,” said Krog.
Qualified players and coaches with the desire to continue their professional hockey careers in Europe can reach out to Higher Hockey Management directly by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org for more on becoming a client.