IAN CRAIG PULVER, CO-FOUNDER
NHLPA Certified Agent
BA Sociology University of Western Ontario 1984-87.
LLB. University of British Columbia 1987-90
Ian Pulver founded Pulver Sports Inc in September 2006. Over time Pulver Sports Inc evolved into The Will Sports Group. Since that time The Will Sports Group has become a major presence in the hockey industry representing and advising some of the best Players in the world including Tyler Seguin, Mike Cammalleri, Olli Jokinen, Scott Gomez, Nail Yakupov and others.
Prior to forming Pulver Sports, Ian Pulver worked as a labour attorney at the NHLPA for 15 years. During his tenure at the NHLPA, Pulver participated in the negotiation drafting and enforcement of the 1992 (Strike),1994 (Lockout) and the 2004 (Lockout) NHL Collective Bargaining Agreements. Pulver was primarily responsible for developing marketplace programs during which the Average League Salary increased from $271,000 to $1,800,000. Pulver provided expert advice to Players and Agents on individual contract negotiations. He was responsible, on an annual basis, to be aware of all Salary Arbitration filings, settlements and hearings. Over time he established legal precedents and marketplace benchmarks that are relied upon by Players of all types. On the grievance arbitration front, Pulver participated in the evaluation of the merits of every labour-related grievance or issue that was brought to the attention of the NHLPA from 1990 to 2006 and was part of a legal team that successfully argued important precedent-setting cases that benefited all Players. (Listing of decisions available upon request). He was involved in reaching various settlement agreements with NHL and appeared as an NHLPA expert witness in several hearings.
Pulver was the NHLPA’s primary contact person interacting with Players between 1991 and 2006.
Pulver has been recognized on several occasions by The Hockey News as one of the most influential people in hockey. Pulver from time to time makes appearances on sports radio shows to address major issues in the sports world.
Ian’s experience is unparalleled in the industry. He resides in Toronto with his wife and three children.
IGOR LARIONOV, CO-FOUNDER
NHLPA Certified Agent
Inducted to Hockey Hall of Fame, 2008
Igor Larionov is one of the most decorated players in hockey history. He was a pioneer with a vast impact on the sport as one of the first Russian players to play in the NHL. He earned the nickname “The Professor” for his unparalleled vision on the ice and his ability to think and analyze the game unlike any other. Larionov centered the famed “KLM” line on the International stage and was a key member of Detroit’s “Russian Five” unit where he and his Red Wing teammates were the first to bring the Stanley Cup to Russia. Not only is he a member of the IIHF “Triple Gold Club”, but also he is one of only four players in history to win Olympic Gold (1984, 1988), World Championship Gold (1982, 1983, 1986, 1989), a Stanley Cup (1997, 1998, 2002), Canada/World Cup (1981) and World Junior Championship Gold (1979, 1980).
Larionov retired from the NHL in 2004 and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2008. Since his retirement as a player Larionov has had great success transitioning into off-ice roles, including starting up his own agency Larionov Inc, which led to the launch of The Will Sports Group. Larionov has worked with top young talent including but not limited to Nail Yakupov, Andrei Loktionov and Nikolai Goldobin and was recently named to The Hockey News’ People of Power and Influence list.
Igor is married with three children and also has a passion for wine, leading him to create Igor Larionov Wines, which has made wines under the ‘Hattrick’, ‘Triple Overtime’ and ‘Slapshot’ labels.
DOMINIC DEBLOIS, CONSULTANT
NHLPA Certified Agent
Licence in Civil Law – LL.L. Degree, University of Ottawa Law Faculty Civil Law Section 2008
Dominic Deblois has been working with Pulver Sports and The Will Sports Group as a consultant for over 8 years as the main agent/advisor in the province of Quebec. Deblois brings a unique perspective to the table that not many have as the son of a former NHL Player who played 15 years in the NHL for six different clubs.
Deblois has had success as a player being selected 18th overall in the QMJHL entry draft in 2000. He was named to Team Quebec at the Under-17 World hockey Championship in 2001, in the same year he was Midget AAA playoff MVP and went on to win the Canadian National Championship (Air Canada Cup) in 2001. He captained the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies for 2 years in the QMJHL and participated in two NHL professional tryouts (Vancouver Canucks and Montreal Canadiens).
In his last season in the QMJHL, he represented the Huskies and was runner up for Best Student Athlete Award in the QMJHL. Following his career in the QMJHL he decided to pursue another path in his career where he graduated with a Civil Law degree at the University of Ottawa in 2008.
Dominic has recruited some of the best young players in Quebec over the past eight years and has played an instrumental role in the career paths of NHL players David Savard and Xavier Ouellet.
Dominic resides in Gatineau, Quebec with his fiancée and their daughter.
JOHN WALTERS, CONSULTANT
NHLPA Certified Agent
John Walters is one of the youngest certified agents in the business. He played hockey at the AAA and Junior Level before becoming a coach and having the opportunity to coach some of the top prospects in Ontario.
Walters spent five years at PEAC School for Elite Athletes as Director of Hockey where he oversaw hockey development and programming. During his tenure at PEAC, NHL drafted players including Josh Ho-Sang played there as well as future players Connor McDavid, Mitchell Stephens, Malcolm Subban and Jordan Subban. Walters also spent two years coaching in the OPJHL and several years coaching in the GTHL.
Over time Walters has been working with Pulver Sports and The Will Sports Group advising players at all levels – from minor hockey to the NHL. He has worked very closely with Tyler Seguin from early in his playing career through to the present, helping Seguin to develop into one of the top players in the NHL.
John is married with three kids and lives in the Toronto area.
JUHA YLÖNEN, CONSULTANT
Co–Founder WSG Finland, FHPA Certified Agent
Former player: NHL (341 games,) Team Finland, Finnish league
World Championship Gold 1995, Olympic Bronze 1998, World Champion Silver,
A two-time Finnish League Champion, World Championship Scoring title in 2001
After a successful hockey career (retired at the age of 34 in 2003), Juha Ylonen spend six years coaching junior teams in his home town Espoo. His teams included NHL drafted players such as Miro Heiskanen, Aarne Talvitie, Eeli Tolvanen and Niklas Almari. Working as a coach, Ylonen learned more about what it takes to become a top player in hockey and has prioritized individual player development ever since. Finnish Ice Hockey Federation reward Ylönen as “hockey developer of the year 2011” as a result of Ylönen´s hard work with Espoo juniors. Ylönen was nominated to the Finnish Hockey Hall Of Fame in 2009.
In WSG Finland Juha works intensively with young talents and shares his know-how with them by frequent communication and helps them develop a pro athlete life style and training routines. He has worked with NHL drafted players Miro Heiskanen, Niklas Almari, Lenni Killinen and Patrik Siikanen among others.
Juha is married and has three children. His oldest son, Jesse (-99) was drafted 2nd round by Montreal Canadiens in 2018 NHL Draft.
MIKA BACKMAN, CONSULTANT
Co–Founder WSG Finland, FHPA Certified Agent
Master Of Laws, University of Helsinki 1998.
Member of the Finnish Bar Association since 2002
Mika Backman founded Finnish Player Service Ltd hockey agency with Juha Ylönen in 2003. Backman and Ylönen joined The Will Sports Group in 2014 and changed the name of their company as WSG Finland Ltd.
As a lawyer and skillful negotiator Backman is responsible for player contract negotiations in WSG Finland. Backman has negotiated more than hundred player contracts and his clients have played in all top leagues NHL, KHL, SWISS A, SHL, DEL and Finnish Liiga, Backman and Ylönen represent now over 70 clients including top young Finnish NHL prospect Miro Heiskanen, KHL veteran Jarno Koskiranta and Teemu Ramstedt and many young future star players like Otto Leskinen, Lenni Killinen and Jesse Ylönen.
Prior to forming the Finnish agency Mika Backman worked as full time attorney at law in Bützow Attorneys Ltd where his mentor was ex top Finnish hockey player Juha Rantasila, co-founded of Finnish Ice hockey Players Association. Backman is still a Specialist Counsel in one of the world´s top law firm Eversheds Sutherland. Backman is specialized in Sport Law. As an attorney Backman has represent Sport federations, Sport Clubs and Coaches and Athletes. Backman provides legal services to all his players civil law and tax law related issues.
Backman lives in Espoo with his wife and two children.
BRETT VALLIQUETTE, CONSULTANT
Brett Valliquette was born on February 22, 1989 in Newmarket, Ontario. Valliquette was an accomplished minor hockey player growing up. Brett played minor hockey AAA level with the York Simcoe Express, Toronto Red wings and Markham Waxers. During his minor hockey years Brett participated on several championship teams along the way he won 3 GTHL championships and 4 Carnation Cups.
Brett was drafted in the Ontario Hockey League by the Plymouth Whalers. Brett played for a Plymouth Whalers team that won an OHL Championship and participated in the Memorial Cup in Vanouver B.C. During his junior years Brett went on to play for the Ottawa 67’s, Oshawa Generals/Couchiching Terriers.
Brett turned pro in 2010 and played for the Knoxville Ice Bears (SPHL) for four years. In 2014 he played in Sweden for Osby IK (Swedish Elite Divison 1) then returned to Knoxville to help the team win a League Championship. The Presidents Cup Championship (SPHL).
Valliquette was respected on and off the ice. Brett has a love and passion for the game of hockey. His never quit attitude allowed him to experience and learn the game of hockey at different levels. Brett has since taken his love for the game and past experience and has given back by spending countless hours at hockey camps and devolpment programs.
Fresh off the game Brett brings an passion to the representation business that will be a great asset to The Will Sports Group. Brett is perfectly positioned to help young Players realize their goals and dreams.
Brett is also an avid golfer who competed at high levels.
DANNY TOLENSKY, DIRECTOR – ANALYTICS & OPERATIONS
Certified Management Accountant
Bachelor of Business Administration, Schulich School of Business
Danny Tolensky has worked as the Chief Financial Officer and Partner of multiple companies including Arrivals + Departures, Karma Gaming International and Charlottetown Metal Products. He has a Business Degree from the Schulich School of Business, his Certified Management Accounting Designation and studied negotiation at the Harvard Business School.
Tolensky is also a recognized hockey writer who has been a member of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association and penned stories for TSN.ca and The Hockey News. Danny has been referenced on Hockey Night in Canada, among many media outlets and has appeared on multiple radio shows – including a regular guest spot on XM’s ‘Business of Hockey’ show.
Tolensky has worked with Pulver Sports and The Will Sports Group since 2011 where a key component of his role has been preparing in-depth analysis and assisting with contract negotiations for Unrestricted Free Agents and Group 2 Free Agents.
Danny lives in Toronto with his wife and two daughters.