Peter MacTavish is changing lines.
The Ottawa-based MacTavish, 44, was promoted to partner last year at Norton Rose Fulbright, where he focuses his practice on representing management in labor and employment matters. MacTavish did not immediately return a request for comment about his new role, but he has had at least one skate in the hockey arena.
He has worked in the player representation industry for 15 years, the Senators said. Most recently, MacTavish assisted with player recruitment, management and contract negotiations for CAA Hockey, which represents some of the league’s top talent, including Sidney Crosby, Patrick Kane and John Tavares. MacTavish also reportedly once worked for retired NHL player agent Lawrence Kelly, a founding partner of Ottawa law firm Kelly Santini.
As an assistant general manager, MacTavish will handle contracts, salary arbitrations and managerial support of the Senators’ hockey operations, as well as Ottawa’s minor league affiliate the Belleville Senators, the team said.
“Peter will be an excellent hire for the Senators,” said attorney and CAA Hockey managing director J.P. Barry in a statement reported by the Ottawa Citizen. “He brings so many important elements to this position. He’s always extremely prepared and thorough. Peter understands both the scouting side and the business side of hockey and he does all this with character and integrity. We wish him the best in his future role.”
MacTavish is far from the lone lawyer-turned-NHL-executive. Big Law, it turns out, is a sort of unwitting training ground for front office talent.
Don Fishman, who serves as assistant general manager and director of legal affairs for the Stanley Cup Champion Washington Capitals, is a former Latham & Watkins associate. Fishman is known as the lead adviser on salary-cap issues to the Capitals. Like many successful NHL teams, Fishman will now face questions about how to pay and retain talented Capitals players like Alexei Ovechkin, Andre Burakovsky, Jakub Vrana and Nicklas Backstrom.
“I’m a lawyer. I love still being a lawyer. And your job as a lawyer, I found out at a young age, is to deliver bad news. So I don’t mind delivering it,” Fishman was quoted in an ESPN.com profile this summer. “But it’s usually not being a killjoy. It’s just delivering bad news. Like, ‘I know you think this player’s valuation is X, but it’s actually Y, so if you want this player, you’re going to be paying him Y.’”
Fishman is also credited with mentoring Andrew Lugerner, a fellow graduate from the University of California, Los Angeles, School of Law who now serves as director of hockey legal affairs for the Las Vegas Golden Knights.
After working as a summer associate at Latham, Lugerner spent a little more than a year as a legal intern under Fishman in the Capitals organization. He worked as a New York-based Latham associate for roughly three years before joining Las Vegas’ NHL expansion team and helping the upstart organization plan its attack for adding players.
“I went from being a corporate lawyer working in New York City to a hockey lawyer living in a casino-hotel in Las Vegas,” Lugerner was quoted in a UCLA student newspaper story this summer. “I got the Golden Knights job five years and one day after I first emailed Don to meet up for coffee.”
The Golden Knights, with Lugerner’s help, made it all the way to the Stanley Cup before falling to the Capitals. The team, owned by former Phoenix real estate lawyer-turned-billionaire William Foley II, also resolved a trademark dispute in July with the U.S. Army over its name.
Earlier this month, the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning hired former tax lawyer Julien BriseBois, who once worked at now-defunct Canadian firm Heenan Blake, to serve as their new general manager. The NHL’s Big Law connections run all the way to the top.