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Hawk consultant says his motives pure

Mark Janssens says he'll offer advice, but he's not seeking a job
by: KATIE HARTLEY, Earlier this month, Hawk Radim Valchar shoots against Prince George in a game Portland won 3-1. Coach Rich Kromm says the line of Valchar, Matt Schmermund and Jacob Dietrich has been solid. “They just work,” he says.

Mark Janssens wants to make something clear: He doesn't want to take General Manager Ken Hodge's job -or anybody else's job with the Portland Winter Hawks.

'I'm just here to help out,' he says.

Janssens, a former Western Hockey League and NHL player, recently was named player personnel special consultant to Winter Hawk owner Jim Goldsmith.

'I'm another voice,' Janssens says. 'I'm going to give Jim my opinion.'

Goldsmith says Hodge, the team's longtime GM, now has to be 'accountable' to Janssens, who plans to pay his first visit to Portland and the Hawks this weekend.

That said, it appears Janssen's new gig will be a part-time deal at an affordable pay structure for Goldsmith.

'It's not an employee situation, and I'm not getting paid for this,' says Janssens, who has a master's degree and works for a trading firm in New York City.

Janssens, 39, spent four years as a player with Regina of the WHL. He then played 13 years for six teams in the NHL, retiring in 2001.

Goldsmith, who befriended Janssens after they met through mutual friends in the Big Apple, tapped him to provide consultation on scouting; the Hawks' active roster and list management; personnel moves; and draft preparation.

Goldsmith has wanted more personnel input since becoming owner in spring 2006. He has added director of hockey operations to his title to oversee Hodge and scouting. The Winter Hawks recently named Matt Bardsley, who has been involved with the nonaffiliate Portland Junior Hawks youth program, as director of player personnel.

'He's going to consult with various people on different decisions,' Janssens says. 'Advice is going to be weighted as to who's giving it. Day-to-day transactions, I'm not going to have a say in that - I'll be involved in macro issues rather than micro issues.

'Suffice to say, Portland has a great GM and a great coach (Rich Kromm) right now. I am more of a sounding board. I'll do whatever Jim asks me to do. I'm not here to undermine anybody.'

League ties could help

Goldsmith believes Janssens can help attract players to Portland, particularly European players, through his contacts in the NHL. Janssens holds season tickets to the New York Rangers and, he jokes, 'the best part of being traded so many times is you get to know a lot of people.'

Janssens plans to familiarize himself with the Hawks and begin making some calls around the WHL.

'I went from team to team in the directory and I know a lot of people still involved in the Western Hockey League,' Janssens says. 'First things first, I have to educate myself.'

Goldsmith says: 'Mark has extensive contacts in the world of hockey.'

After his NHL retirement, Janssens earned his bachelor of arts degree from New York University and master's in business administration from Columbia University.

Janssens doesn't plan to leave his job or his city and move his wife and kids to the Northwest; his son, Cameron, 6, just started playing hockey. 'I'm a volunteer coach,' he says. 'I can't help myself.'

Of his day job, he adds: 'I enjoy what I do. If you want to be in finance, New York is a great place to be.'

Goldsmith, on the other hand, says he wants to eventually relocate from New York City to Portland after his kids graduate from high school.

Picks have been elusive

Janssens, who hails from Surrey, British Columbia, remembers playing against the Winter Hawks. He has not met Hodge, the former coach and part owner of the team and its remaining link (along with trainer Innes Mackie) to late owner Brian Shaw and the franchise's relocation to the Rose City in 1976.

Above all, Janssens wants to promote the WHL as a destination for top young players in an era when they have more options to choose from to try to make the NHL.

'I thoroughly enjoyed my time in the WHL and, I think in terms of choices for a young man who wants to pursue hockey as a profession, the WHL is a great place to be,' Janssens says. ''For a kid who's thinking about playing in the WHL and worrying about school - you can have both. You can go to school and play in the WHL.

'I want the guys who are drafted by Portland to be in Portland.'

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