To all reading this,
welcome to Sports Byline USAís new column: PUCKINĎ AROUND!!
For all of you who donít know me
(probably most of you reading this!!), my name is Adam Hill. You may
recognize the name from Sports Bylineís Video Game corner, where I reviewed FIFA
and NHL 2002 by EA Sports. Well, not only do I encourage you to stay tuned for
more of my video game reviews, but I also invite you to watch for my insights on
what I think is the coolest game on earth, Hockey!!
I am an A+ certified
computer technician, as well as an avid gamer and hockey fan. I eat,
breathe and sleep hockey. It is my intention to bring you an informative and fun
column, not just during the bangĎem, checkíem, high stickíem hockey season, but
also during the summer and leading into the next season!!
WHEELIN' AND DEALIN'
For my inaugural column, letís take a look at the now just
past trading deadline. The yearly frenzy every player dreads more than any
other time of the year has come and gone yet again. Players hate this time more
than any other time of the year. Rumors of who is going where and why run
rampant. More often than not, the rumor mill is all for naught, as the actual
deals made are nothing more than a last minute stock up or
housecleaning, depending on what side of the playoff picture the respective team
is on. Once again, there were more rumors this year than there were actual
trades. However, a few of the rumors not willing to go away transpired into
actual deals. This year saw some blockbuster deals go down.
The New York Rangers
were busiest on this day and in the days leading up the deadline. They acquired
winger Pavel Bure from the Florida Panthers for two defensemen, Igor Ulanov and
Filip Novak. With the Rangers quickly fading from the Eastern Conference playoff
picture, you knew they'd be busy.
Another blockbuster for New York brought defenseman Tom Poti
and forward Rem Murray from the Edmonton Oilers to this same Rangers squad for
forward Mike York. You will recall York was part of the F.L.Y. line in New
York (Theo Fleury, Eric Lindros and York). Now he goes to an Oilers team also in danger of missing the playoffs, but should help bolster their top line
of Mike Comrie and Ryan Smyth. On the flipside, the Rangers bring in a marquee
defenseman in Poti, and bring in a third or fourth line winger in Murray.
Personally, I think this trade was a big mistake for the Oilers. Sure, the fans
booed Poti constantly, but what the fans didnít seem to understand is Poti
is a blossoming young defenseman of Norris Trophy caliber. With the shortage of
good defensemen in the league nowadays, you want to hang on to a guy like that.
Donít tell me for a second Glen Sather doesnít still have an influence on
that team. Kevin Lowe ought to be ashamed of himself for making this deal.
fine, theyíve now rid themselves of a player the fans didnít like, but what
about Murray? Put this guy on the third or fourth line and you have an offensive
threat who could score a late goal or an overtime goal anytime. Unless they put
York on a different line, they will have one major line the other team can
scout and shut down. Sure this gives a younger or minor league defensemen a
chance to step up, but why now in the midst of a playoff race?? What would the
fans rather have, one offensive line that can easily be shut down to guarantee
an early exit from the post season, or would they rather have a winning team?
This was an absolute foolish trade if you ask me.
The Rangers made another deal a week prior to the deadline
bringing Martin Rucinsky and Roman Lyashenko over from the Dallas Stars for
former first round draft pick Manny Malholtra and Barrett Heisten. The Rangers
have pretty much revamped their team in a last ditch effort to make the
playoffs. One deal we didnít see was for aging goaltender Mike Richter to
another team. He will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.
With some of the talent Glen Sather has brought into the fold, they may want to
hold on to him for some time yet and see if they can make a run for it (or find
out if pigs can fly, whichever comes first!).
Missing out on opportunities to get Bure, Poti, or even
Rucinsky, the New York Islanders got Dave Roche from the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim
for minor leaguers Ben Guite and Bjorn Melin. Anaheim is a team better
on paper than they are in the standings, and they will be looking to rebuild in
the upcoming off season. Had they kept Teemu Selanne they could be playoff
The New Jersey Devils quietly went into the trading
deadline, re-aquiring Stephane Richer, a team he himself said he would never
again play for. This deal made me wonder why, then the Devils pulled off a deal
with Dallas, acquiring forwards Joe Nieuwendyk and Jamie Langenbrunner for
forwards Jason Arnott and Randy McKay. While the Devils lose veteran McKay, they
get another veteran and proven playoff/Olympic scorer Nieuwendyk. Arnott will
bring offense to a Dallas team needing it badly. This deal should make the
Devils a slight favorite in the East. Unfortunately, it could be a story of too
little, too late. This deal should have been made earlier in the season and not
now at the deadline. It may have helped both teams in the long run. Dallas and
New Jersey both are battling for playoff spots as this has happened.
Battling injuries, Eastern favorites the Philadelphia Flyers
brought in Adam Oates from the Washington Capitals. They gave up backup
goaltender Maxime Ouellett and 3 draft picks for Oates. Jeremy Roenick and Keith
Primeau are both out with injuries, and while Oates will help short term, in the
long term the Flyers may wish they had held on to Ouellett.
Stanley Cup favorites, the Detroit Red Wings, brought in
defenseman Jiri Slegr to add to an already potent defense corps. The Red Wings
really didnít need to make this deal, but they made it anyway to round out their
defense and give them a better shot at the whole picture.
This is also true for last years cup champions, the Colorado
Avalanche. They acquired Darius Kasparaitis from the Pittsburgh Penguins for
forwards Ville Nieminen and Rick Berry. Nieminen should bring added offense to a
Penguins team next year when Mario Lemieux will hopefully be healthy. This was
clearly a cleaning house deal for Pittsburgh. You can also bet the
Avalanche were watching last year when Kasparaitis scored the overtime winner in
Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals against Buffalo.
Rarely do you ever see a trade deadline deal guarantee a Stanley Cup. The favorites to win are already being picked or have
been picked for some time. The trade deadline is a way for a team to fine tune
an already fine team for the playoffs or for a not playoff bound team to
get rid of some unwanted baggage going into the summer free agent market. Make
no mistake, in the NHL there are 30 teams; 16 of which will make the playoffs,
but only 1 will win it all. Make a wrong impulse move and the teamís chemistry
can and will be severely affected. Weíve seen this time and time again. Two
years ago, the Ottawa Senators made a deal with Pittsburgh that sent their #1
goalie Ron Tugnutt to the Pittsburgh Penguins along with defenseman Janne
Laukannen for veteran Tom Barrasso. Tugnutt was second statistically only to
Dominick Hasek, yet the GM of the Senators at the time felt they needed a
"veteran" goalie to make it deep in the playoffs. This deal was made despite the
fact Barrasso hadnít played in the NHL for over a year! Every hockey fan
knows what happened after that. The Senators went on to lose 60% of their games
for the remainder of the season and lost in the first round of the playoffs to
the Toronto Maple Leafs. Pittsburgh on the other hand, went on to upset
Washington in the first round and took Philadelphia to 6 games in the second
round, or perhaps theoretically we could say 7 games, as one of the games ended
up being the longest ever overtime game in Stanley Cup Playoff history, needing
5 overtime periods to decide it. Keith Primeau can tell you who scored the
Ironically, our friend Barrasso was on the trading block
again. He now calls the Toronto Maple Leafs home. What did they give up? A draft
pick. Forget the fact he has had a fine outing with the Carolina Hurricanes and he won a silver medal with the U.S. Menís Olympic Hockey Team. Heíll be an
unrestricted free agent at seasonís end and Carolina made it quite clear they
were not interested in paying top dollar for an aging goaltender. Theyíve proven
that much by bringing in younger Kevin Weekes from the Tampa Bay Lightning and
by trading away marquee defenseman Ozolinsh, and forwards Willis and Dingman.
While weíre at it, why didnít we do an outside the NHL trade and send Tommy Salo
to Belarus for Andrei Mezei? This would have made as much sense and the Leafs
getting Barrasso. Sure, Curtis Joseph is injured, but Corey Schwab has proven
that he can hold the fort in Cujoís absence. And just how hurt is he
really? We all know he'll be back for the playoffs, no matter how hurt he
Aside from the Barrasso trade, the Leafs were actually very
quiet this trading deadline. This was also true for two other Canadian teams,
the Ottawa Senators and the Vancouver Canucks, both deciding to stick with the
team they already have. The Senators acquired Benoit Brunet from Dallas for a
draft pick as well as Juha Ylonen from the Tampa Bay Lightning for Andre Roy a
few days prior to the deadline (or as an astute fan put it, Roy for a Yahoo), but nothing on deadline day.
The Calgary Flames
got forward Blake Sloan from the Columbus Blue Jackets for forward Jamie
Allison, proof they are giving up on the post season and perhaps getting
rid of an escalating salary for next year. Columbus, on the other hand, perhaps
are looking to the future as well by bringing in a proven center who has been
known to put the puck in the net. Unfortunately, that wasnít going to happen in
The busiest Canadian NHL team was the Montreal Canadiens.
They acquired goaltender Stephane Fiset from the Los Angeles Kings for a draft
pick. They also seized the opportunity to claim forward Bill Lindsay off of
waivers from Florida. Clearly Florida is in a rebuilding mode, since they traded
away a franchise player in Bure, along with a rugged winger in Lindsay. The
Canadiens could be a dark horse if they make it into the post season, as they
could also have back in their lineup forwards Saku Koivu, who is recovering from
chemotherapy, and Donald Audette, recovering from a bad slash he suffered to his
arm as a result of a freak collision with a playerís skate.
The waiver line was also busy at the deadline. Ted Donato
continued to play musical teams between the St. Louis Blues and the Los Angeles
Kings. The Kings claimed Donato on waivers just over a month ago, then he was
put back on waivers and claimed by St. Louis. Now he is a King again. One would
wonder if either team can make up their minds? Both are in danger of missing the
Another waiver claim was made by the Washington Capitals,
claiming Benoit Hogue from the Boston Bruins. Hogue is another player that has
been playing musical teams this year. Perhaps the Capitals are looking for a
winger that can put up with Jaromir Jagr.
the regular season so close to ending and the playoff
races so close, all this wheeling and dealing begs the question, why bother
having the trading deadline so late in the season? The NBA and MLB both have
their trading deadline halfway through the season. With all the talk in the NHL
about what rules should changed in the wake of the Olympics, why not start with
making the trading deadline earlier? Gary Bettman, if you are reading this,
While we saw a blockbuster trade or two, we saw that the
rumors were simply that, rumors. Most general managers that have a legitimate
Stanley Cup contender either made minor adjustments or stuck with the lineup
they have had all season. We didnít see Dominick Hasek traded to New Jersey for
Olympic Hockey Gold Medalist goalie Martin Brodeur. Nor did we see Joe Sakic
traded to Chicago or any crazy deals like that. Most general managers are
finally confident they have the team they need down the stretch and into the
playoffs. If a deal was so good that it couldnít have been refused, it would
have been made. As is true every year, we have seen a deal or two that will us
you scratch our heads and wonder why. Ultimately, one thing will remain
constant. Only one team will win the Stanley Cup.
A full list of all trades made this trading deadline can be
WHO IS THIS GUY?
Andre Savage is one of the leading scorers for the AHL's Manitoba Moose. Fans of the Boston/Providence
Bruins and Michigan Techís hockey teams will know Savage. The Canucks Brian
Burke should be ashamed of himself for not calling up this kid. The Manitoba
Moose are the minor league affiliate of the Vancouver Canucks. Signed as a free
agent in the off season, Savage has played the entire season in the minors for
the Moose. He has played 63 games, the most of anybody on the roster. He has 27
goals, 21 assists for 48 points, plus he has 98 penalty minutes. So not only can
he score, heís a tough customer to boot. The Canucks are quickly fading from the
playoff picture in the NHLís Western Conference. They need depth at forward to
fill in for injuries and who do they call up?? Todd Warriner. Donít get me
wrong, Todd is a proven veteran. However, this year heís only played 30 games
combined between the Phoenix and Vancouver systems. He only has 7 goals and 13
assists, and 32 penalty minutes. Statistically, plus/minus, heís a -6. Compare
that to Savage, whoís a +9. Even compare that to Steve Kariya, Paulís brother,
who only has 6 more points than Savage and is a -2. And, as if that isnít bad
enough, Kariya has been called up already this season, not to mention other
players that arenít as good as Savage statistically. Holden, Chubarov, Brown,
BouckÖthe list goes on. I urge the Canucks to simply give this guy a try. He can
put the puck in the net and wonít be a liability to the team. Also, heís one of
the few players left out there who plays for the love of the game and not for
the big bucks. Heíll be the first to tell you that even if he doesnít play in
the NHL, heíll be happy anyway for just having had the opportunity to play. I
donít know about you, but Vancouver could use a player like that down the
stretch. Earth to Brian Burke. Hello. Are you listening???
On March 13, 1998, Curtis Joseph signed a $25 million deal
with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Not bad for a player who was never drafted. Joseph
signed with the St. Louis Blues as a free agent in 1989 and worked his way into
the No. 1 role by the 1991-02 season. Two seasons later he was an all-star.
On March 14, 1986, Oilersí defenseman Paul Coffey tied
Tom Bladonís record of eight points in a game by a defenseman, when he scored
twice and assisted on six other goals in Edmontonís 12-3 walloping of the
Detroit Red Wings. He would come within two goals in 1985-86 of becoming the
first defenseman to score 50 in a season, although he did break Bobby Orrís
single-season record of 46.
On March 18, 1996, Swede Peter Forsberg became the first
NHLer to take the Stanley Cup to Europe. The Cup previously had traveled to
Finland and Germany in 1994, but not with a Cup-winning player.
And finally, on March 19, 1981, The Buffalo Sabres
establish the long-standing NHL record for most goals in a period, with nine in
a 14-4 rout of the Toronto Maple Leafs. This is still a record to this day.
(Source: National Hockey League 2002 Desk Calendar)
In any event, thatís a wrap on my first Sports Byline hockey
column. I recently attended the Ottawa Senators/Edmonton Oilers game, and what a
great game it was (if youíre an Oilers fan). I witnessed something interesting
there that Iíll share with you in a future column. For now, keep the adrenaline
flowing, the blood pumping, and the coffee perculating!!
For questions, comments, disagreements, or just to say hi,
please send E-mail to
I will feature interesting e-mails in this very column,
so stay tuned for much more.