Even NHL superstar Connor McDavid needs a Rocket for the spaceship ride he’s found himself on.
Ironically, this Rocket helps keep him grounded.
“For sure, 1,000% Rocket has done that,” the 19-year-old Edmonton Oilers phenom tells me. “He has helped me out a lot.”
His name is Greg Leavers, but Mick Jagger and Bruce Springsteen call him Rocket. Keith Urban, Dragon Michael Wekerle, Drake, Mats Sundin, Tie Domi and Steven Seagal do too.
Add McDavid to that list.
McDavid has excellent people around him on the hockey side in Edmonton. And strong family on the personal side, which may explain why he is so mannerly and respectful. He also has Bobby Orr to guide the business side.
Rocket’s Pro Services stays out of all that.
“My job is not only to protect my clients, but help them protect themselves,” says Rocket. “There’s lots of scary things out there young players and people in the spotlight need to be aware of.”
Personal protection is part of it, but a big concern in 2016 is the reality that everybody is now carrying a video camera, editing suite, and top quality still camera to go with live broadcasting, and tweeting on their phones.
Rocket guides today’s NHLers dealing with today’s world of social media overload and citizen journalism gone viral.
“It makes it hard for a great kid like Connor to go out with friends, as he should be able to do as a teenager,” Leavers said. “I am in the field of protecting pro athletes from the scrutiny of the general public and providing privacy.”
Today’s selfie picture is yesterday’s autograph.
“These kids have to be aware at all times, unlike the stars of the past,” said Rocket. “The problem is sometimes a kid like Connor does not understand how big they are in the public eye.”
Connor laughs when talking about how his life has changed from a Toronto-area kid going to minor hockey rinks to being a sought-after NHL star.
“It’s fun and a good problem to have,” McDavid said of the attention.
But when you are dubbed the next Sidney Crosby, it turns your privacy upside down.
Connor says “even though I am often the quietest guy in the room” he does enjoy taking a selfie picture or signing an autograph for the kids. He remembers how “classy” Crosby was when he met him as a youngster himself. “Sidney was my favourite player growing up and when I got my picture with him, he was great to me.”
He tries to emulate that.
“It’s obviously different when a little guy or girl want something signed or a snap a picture, than some guy standing there with a clipboard with 20 copies of your picture or a hockey card.”
However, it has been difficult adjusting to the idea he could accidentally snub somebody.
“I worry about that every day,” said McDavid. “I definitely feel bad about it all the time.” That’s where Rocket comes in.
“I teach him how to say no,” he said. “I am the bad guy sometimes and tell people no pictures.”
Rocket also reminds young players: “Don’t ever get a picture with a drink in your hand because even if it’s a soda, there will be somebody who will spin it.” Rocket teaches them how to read who is a real fan and who, male or female, may be trying to take advantage.
“Rocket gives us good advice,” says Connor. “One story is I was in Arizona and went out for dinner with Max Domi and these guys followed us for 40 minutes until we got to where we were going. It was strange. Luckily, Rocket dealt with them but it was concerning.”
Let’s just say that thanks to Rocket, the attempt to get the better of two young hockey stars didn’t get off the ground.