Free Jake Gardiner: Agent uses Twitter to pry client from Maple Leafs’ shackles

Jake Gardiner is the Toronto Maple Leafs’ brightest young star on defense, scoring 30 points in 40 games with the AHL Toronto Marlies this season. He was demoted back there after only two games with the Leafs this season, as GM Dave Nonis said Gardiner had to “find his legs again” after rehabbing from a concussion.

The Leafs have lost three in a row, with “the cracks in their defence beginning to look more like canyons,” as Mike Zeisberger wrote. Gardiner is still toiling in the minors. His agent, former NHLer Ben Hankinson, had seen enough, and sent the following call to action out on Twitter following Toronto’s loss to Winnipeg on Tuesday night:

It was a tweet heard ‘round Leafs Nation, as many fans rallied to a cause they’d been supporting for some time. Pension Plan Puppets called the campaign “sorely needed.”

That’s great and all, but NHL teams have a funny way of not appreciating the virtues of agents using social media to influence their client’s playing time or status with their employer.

In fact, it’s sort of an Octagon Hockey specialty: Remember Allan Walsh’s Twitter campaign against the Minnesota Wild on behalf of Petr Sykora, saying his client was being “disrespected” by Coach Todd Richards?

Sykora was demoted and released a few weeks later.

Does this move by his agent put Gardiner on the trading block? Not necessarily, although his value is significant. It doesn’t sit well with his AHL coach, however. From Chris Johnston of Sportsnet:

Hashtag “uh-oh” …