Every guy hopes to be a game-changer.
He continues to chase his National Hockey League dream, but Calgary Flames farmhand Josh Healey figures he might accomplish exactly that with an app he created that allows players to anonymously review their agents and coaches.
Healey’s baby, The Sports Aux, launched earlier this season.
“The feedback has been really, really positive,” said Healey, who was raised in Edmonton and is an alumnus of the South Side Athletic Club AAA programs. “A lot of the guys I know have been really supportive and have helped me out, but I’ve had a lot of players that I’ve never talked to before, never even played against, that are reaching out and saying, ‘Hey man, this is an awesome app. It’s something I sure could have used. It’s really going to help some kids in the future.’
“And that’s awesome. That’s the whole point of why I started up this company and why it’s going to be around a long, long time.”
The Flames’ farm team — the American Hockey League’s Stockton Heat — wrapped up their season Sunday, missing the playoffs at the second level.
Some of the up-and-comers will be headed to the Saddledome to serve as black aces during the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
If the 24-year-old Healey isn’t among those invited to job-shadow Johnny and Gio & Co., the hard-hitting defenceman will instead be working to spread the word about The Sports Aux, which is available on Apple’s App Store. (He will, of course, also be cheering on his former roommate Andrew Mangiapane, an emerging fan favourite who has added some speed and skill to the Flames’ fourth line.)
“I’ve wanted to be an entrepreneur, I’ve wanted to be a business owner, and I think I found a niche that I can fill,” said Healey, who posted one goal, 11 points and 64 penalty minutes in 55 outings in his second full season with the Heat. “I think, quite honestly, it’s going to be an everyday name. It’s going to be a routine thing — when an agent or a coach reaches out, you’re going to go look him up right away on The Sports Aux to see what other verified players have said about them and then just make a more informed decision about your hockey career.”
Healey was skating in the Alberta Junior Hockey League when agents started to sniff around.
He admittedly wasn’t sure what he should expect from a representative. Besides word-of-mouth and polished website testimonials, he didn’t have much information to go on.
He’s had this idea ever since, although he was spurred into action after a trip to a sports store in Edmonton left him wondering how he could help out kids and families who might not be able to afford his favourite sport. He will donate a chunk of his profits.
The finance major — with a specialization in investments — started working on the business plan during his junior and senior season with the Ohio State Buckeyes.
Between summer workouts and skates, he built a database of profiles and stats. (Those will be popular with agents, scouts and average-joe fans who can build a list of players to track.)
Healey started development last spring with company based in Silicon Valley, then launched The Sports Aux in late January.
Over the past few months, he has verified 800-plus players, a process that includes sending a selfie with ID to prove you’re not just claiming to be Frankie Forward or Danny Defence.
That might not sound like a ton of would-be raters, but that’s enough guys to fill 40 lineups. There are some NHLers on that anonymous roster, plus skaters from the AHL, ECHL, NCAA, the three Canadian Hockey League loops and the Junior A ranks.
Agents are graded on performance, communication and reliability. The three categories for coach critiques are performance, relationship and administrative.
In an era where there are Rate-My … websites for everything from teachers to doctors to roommates (really), Healey stresses The Sports Aux isn’t just a place for peeved pucksters to groan about those who didn’t give them enough icetime or get them enough loot on their latest contract.
In fact, he’s heard from a few agents who — proud of their work — are encouraging their clients to log on and have their say. Healey is a big fan of his current representative, but Jeff Helperl of Saskatoon-based Thunder Creek Professional Player Management has more than one positive review.
“I think when people first hear about it, and I’m sure even when you first heard about the app, you think, ‘Oh, I wonder what bad things are going to be said?’ People are drawn to the negative side of things,” Healey said. “But quite honestly, and I’ve seen all the reviews that have come in so far because we have a screening process, it’s been really positive. There are some agents and coaches that have some constructive criticisms, we’ll call it, of reviews. But there’s nothing along the lines of, ‘This guy is just a bad coach,’ and leaves it at that. It really goes into detail as to why they felt that way.
“Both good and bad, it’s informative comments. And from what I have seen so far, it’s been more positive than negative, but everything is constructive and it is going to help the hockey community moving forward.”
Because every guy wants to be a game-changer.
“I think it’s going to grow to be something very important, very influential, in the coming months and years,” Healey said. “And when I think back about why I started it, it does go back to helping kids and helping players and just kind of giving them a voice. A platform for the players is kind of our motto, and that’s what we’re standing by.”
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019