The rewards, however, can be immense. The average NHL salary is nearly $2 million. At the standard agent's rate of 5%, Grossman makes a lot of pelmeni on his 30 contracts. Then there's the occasional diamond in the rough. Three years ago, at an international tournament in Switzerland, Grossman watched in awe as a 17-year-old Russian scored goal after breathtaking goal. Though Ilya Kovalchuk had an agent at the time, Grossman deployed his version of the neutral-zone trap and ended up representing Kovalchuk at the 2001 draft. Now the left wing for the Atlanta Thrashers is one of hockey's most dynamic stars (Grossman flew from Pori to the Twin Cities to watch Kovalchuk in the All-Star Game), and he recently became the fifth player in league history to score 100 goals before his 21st birthday. Kovalchuk just completed the final season of a three-year, $8 million contract and could soon command a salary of $10 million, labor peace provided.
So Grossman will happily rack up the cell minutes and the frequent-flier miles on obscure airlines, dividing his time between the NHL's ice palaces and ramshackle European rinks, schmoozing the likes of Lauri Korpikoski—who, with his parents' blessing, signed with Grossman a few weeks after the Five Nations Tournament. "I guess it's like any business," Grossman said in Pori, exhaling a plume of cold Nordic air. "You have to fish where the fish are."