Teams load up for the stretch drive


"Some prices are just too high, no matter how much you may want the prize.  The one thing you can't trade for your desire, is your heart."

        - Lois McMaster Bujold, ( 'Memory' - 1996 ) -



     Before I get started on all the activity we saw leading up to last Tuesday's trade deadline, I wouldn't be a hockey columnist if I didn't comment on the "Todd Bertuzzi Incident".  I feel by now, I don't need to brief you on what transpired, and since everyone and their dog have discussed it to death, I'll sum up my whole take in ONE short paragraph:

     The NFL is regarded by most as the best-run pro league in North America.  When dealing with incidents like this, they don't let events fester in the medias for a few days, allowing the public to view the incident in slow motion over & over again.  They rule on it immediately ( within 24 hours of the incident ) on appropriate measures to be taken against the offenders.  Their fines are steep, and are meant not only to punish, but also as a deterrent.  The NHL, who we all know keeps getting a more & more bad reputation as a violent sport spinning out of control, let this incident linger for a few days before ruling on it.  They have completely failed in the damage control department because next year (or whenever we get hockey again), the Regular Season will start with this whole issue being re-visited again.  The NHL failed at putting this matter to rest, and will suffer more bad publicity because of their failure in doing so.  I have nothing new to say on Todd Bertuzzi, Brian Burke or the Canucks.  Their actions, or failure to take the appropriate ones warranted everything they received.

     With that out of the way, lets examine what a few teams did leading up to the trade deadline.  Nearly 50 players find themselves with new Postal / Zip codes, as the deadline, and the weeks leading up to it did not disappoint the die-hard hockey fans.  If something was different this year, it was teams began loading up ( or in some cases, unloading ) before the final day.  Before D-Day, we saw star players such as Jaromir Jagr, Anson Carter (twice!), Darryl Sydor, Mike Comrie, Steve Sullivan, Peter Bondra, Alexei Zhamnov, Robert Lang, Alexei Kovalev, Sergei Gonchar, Brian Leetch, Petr Nedved, and a few others, depending on your definition of "star player".  It's obvious many teams are in the hunt this season.  You almost get the feeling with a work stoppage looming, everyone's going for it.  Need proof ?

     The Edmonton Oilers, 6 points out of the final playoff spot in the West and thought dead by many, went out and acquired Petr Nedved and "the Juice" Jussi Markkanen in exchange for a draft pick & Minor Leaguer Stephen Valiquette.  This move allowed the Oilers to shed some salary, by moving goaltender Tommy Salo to Colorado on D-Day.  Furthermore, the Rangers are on the hook for the remainder of Nedved's salary for the year.  Thanks Glen Sather, what's that they say ?  Once an Oiler, always an Oiler ?

     Another team thought to be "sellers" who ended up "buyers" at the deadline were the Buffalo Sabres, with strong rumors of Satan being moved to New Jersey (a move I would've welcome.  After all, wasn't SATAN born to be a DEVIL?).  Instead, Buffalo, also six points out of the final playoff spot dealt for Brad Brown, but more noticeably, Mike Grier who scored a goal and added 2 assists in his Sabres debut.  Welcome to Buffalo Grier; Satan, you can put your phone away for now.

     Some of the usual suspects were also busy.  The regulars who in the past have loaded up at the deadline were busy again this year: Detroit (Lang), Colorado (Salo, Gratton), Toronto (Leetch, Francis), Dallas (Therien, Bure), Philadelphia (Malakhov, Zhamnov, Burke), Boston (Gonchar, Nylander), Vancouver (Sanderson, Rucinsky), St-Louis (Sillinger, Savage), New Jersey (Kozlov, Hrdina)  and Ottawa (Bondra, DeVries) all added players to their rosters without giving up too much.  A few new faces who are now part of the playoff picture took advantage of the sweepstakes, they include:  Tampa Bay (Neckar, Sydor), Nashville (Hnidy, Sullivan), Montreal (Kovalev) and Calgary (Simon, Nieminen).

Ultimately, we can draw two conclusions from all this activity:

      1) The deadline needs to be moved back.  Too many teams have a totally new roster, while other teams just serve as a breeding ground for the stronger teams every year.  We might as well consider Washington, Pittsburgh & Chicago minor-league teams since in a sense, that's what they have been to many teams.

      2) Ultimately, only one team will end up wining the Stanley Cup, meaning only one GM will have put together the perfect Roster.  With so many contenders facing off in the First Round, some teams will have sacrificed too much for too little.  Does anyone miss the days where teams actually believed they had the right people to go all the way REGARDLESS of Deadline deals ?


Answer to #1

Hockey Quiz:
Instead of the Randum Thoughts & the Quote of the week, I offer 5 quiz questions to test your hockey IQ.  Good luck, they aren't easy !!!

  1. Who was the first non-Canadian NHLer to score 50 goals in a single season ?
  2. Who is the only defenseman to win back-to-back Norris Trophies with different teams ?
  3. Who was the last NHL goalie to play without a mask ?
  4. What is the highest jersey number ever worn by an NHL goaltender ?
  5. Who was the first coach of the Quebec Nordiques ?

e-mail me your answers HERE
Answers will be revealed in my next column.  Good luck !


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