Alex Sinatra hired to lead the players’ association of the first hockey federation into the future
The Premier Hockey Federation Players Association officially welcomed its new CEO, Alex Sinatra, on Wednesday.
Sinatra is CEO and Founder of Your Potential for Everything, a strategic sports consulting firm that specifically guides women and other marginalized groups in sports and entertainment to gain clarity, confidence and grow their businesses. Sinatra received her JD and BBA in Marketing from Texas A&M University.
Sinatra’s background in contract negotiation and marketing is well suited for a league with growth on the horizon. “Beyond his mastery of the negotiating table, his prowess as a marketer will resonate favorably with PHF players as we collectively seek out new and exciting ways to increase our visibility in the market and put showcasing our talents, ”said Kaleigh Fratkin, current Boston Pride defenseman and one of four players remaining from the NWHL’s inaugural season in 2015.
The PHF recently announced multi-year deals with Upper Deck and Warrior Hockey, all of which are indebted to the 50-50 revenue split former executive director Anya Packer negotiated for players.
“I want to thank Anya Packer for all the work she has done over the past few years to bring the Players Association to where it is today,” said Mallory Souliotis, Pride advocate and representative of the AP, in his opening speech.
It was Souliotis who originally communicated with Sinatra during the period when the players’ association was between the directors. The two log onto the Clubhouse social media platform and have stayed in touch. Sinatra invited Souliotis on her podcast and began following her, Boston Pride and NWHL in 2021.
Souliotis asked if Sinatra would be open to a conversation about the players’ association. “I had long conversations with the player representatives, I had a conversation with Anya in general to see what she had done in the past and to learn from her to see if it was something that , in a doable way, I could integrate into the legal work that I do in a sports consultancy firm a work that I still do.
Sinatra felt she was fine with this and went through a formal process to interview for the vacant position. She was informed that the players’ association wanted to make an offer by text message. Sinatra agreed.
To break Alex, I asked him the question I often ask Anya Packer:
What’s on your whiteboard?
“That’s a great question and it’s something I talked to the players about. And it’s actually quite funny that you were talking about it because literally last night I spoke with one of the teams. , all of their players, and we had a needs versus wants conversation, ”Sinatra told me during her video conference on Wednesday. She will be spending the entire month of January talking with the players on each team and rehearsing the process of identifying needs versus wants.
“I know after talking with the players they really want a more practical role in running the league. They absolutely want to take a look at the standard player contract, see what they can add to it, what can be improved. And they want to work on getting more national media coverage, which goes hand in hand with the PA sponsorship opportunities. So I’m really excited for what the future holds, ”said Sinatra.
During the call, Sinatra reaffirmed the separation between the current PHF and the players’ association. Initially, the NWHL appointed a director of the players’ association. US Olympian Erika Lawler oversaw the PA in the inaugural season and when Packer took over in Season 2 shortly after the NWHL announced drastic pay cuts.
“Keep them separate”
Packer worked to create a split between the AP and the league during his tenure and established the 50-50n revenue split, among other things. At the sound of it, Sinatra will continue to establish an appropriate separation between the two parties while working collectively to amplify the profile of the players.
The league understood and allowed the players to go through the entire process of selecting an executive director from start to finish, ”said Sinatra. Communication with the federation will have set limits: “There are certain checks and balances that need to be in place when you have a player association and the league to make sure the balance is there. “
Sinatra also established that the PA is not a formal and recognized union, although it functions in the same way. “We are not an official union within the meaning of the National Labor Relations Act, we are not recognized by the National Labor Relations Council as a union. However, we operate as if we are at this stage, we use the same type of rules, procedures, protocols as much as possible to ensure that there are no conflicts of interest to ensure that we are operating from as professionally as we can, ”she added.
As a good lawyer, Sinatra reaffirmed the relationship, saying: “A union is different from an association. And a players’ association is not the league. And the league is not an association of players, but they have to work together as much as possible in order to have the best interests of the players balanced against the best interests of the league and net economic problems as well.
Sinatra was unwilling to reveal whether she was being paid by the Players Association, although in past conversations with Packer I was told that the executive director did not receive a salary. Packer also revealed that the PA does not have an operating budget. I can’t be sure that’s always the case, but if it does, it won’t be for long.
“I can say that we are looking for sponsors, we are looking to build a financial base for our players. Know what we have seen from other unions and other player associations, both in leagues where women play and in leagues. where men play is having financial backing that gives you the confidence to be able to build things like a website to build a product line so you can hire accountants so you can hire more staff, that sort of thing. Money makes the world go round, right? So we’re looking for sponsors, ”Sinatra said.
It should also be noted that despite having a law degree, Sinatra is not the general counsel for the PHF Players Association. In 2019, Packer worked with lawyer Christina Simanca-Proctor to draft an increased salary cap and a 50-50 income split.
The players weren’t available during the video conference on Wednesday, so I asked Sinatra to do their best to convey what the players are hoping this new era of the Players Association will bring.
Where the money resides
“We’re looking to generate revenue on the PA side to help support players and give them an extra boost in terms of the marketing dollars that come in, where they have as much control as possible with a brand that wants to partner. . We saw that the WNBPA, they have partners, they have marketing dollars, they have license agreements. We’re looking to do that as well, ”Sinatra told me.
“The players don’t know it, so it’s an obvious surprise for them. But I’ve already reached out to a sponsor I have a relationship with to at least strike up a conversation. This sponsor is already associated with leagues where women play. So they definitely have that membership there. No promises but the conversation is open, they have responded, they are happy to have a longer conversation, ”Sinatra added.
The WNBPA is as much a gold standard for player associations as the WNBA is for women’s sports leagues. Under Terri Jackson, the WNBPA ushered in a groundbreaking CBA deal and is working with OneTeam partners and an organization that works with PAs “to transform the way all athletes do business by putting them squarely at the center of the business ecosystem.” .
In addition to sponsors, Sinatra strives to offer workshops, including financial literacy, for players. Packer and Fratkin joined Whitecaps forward Allie Thunstrom and Pride goaltender Lovisa Selander as participants in the Harvard Business School Crossover Program in 2020. Sinatra seeks to provide educational opportunities for all PHF players.
“Right now I’m compiling the types of workshops they would like to have, from financial literacy to entrepreneurship. And we’re going to be looking at creating a series of workshops for players where we bring experts in these areas to be able to educate the players because right now it’s about education, as well as they want open communication and they want education. And full steam ahead from my perspective on those two things, ”Sinatra told me.
There is still a lot of work to be done to increase the salaries and overall earning potential of PHF players. Overall, Alex Sinatra seems like the right fit for the job at this phase of the PA. I think I will closely follow the progress of the PHF players association.