Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Thoughts on the NHL trade deadline...

Well, as opposed to last year when I spent the whole day working on my computer with the Trade Tracker always visible in bottom right corner of my screen, this year I was out on the road all day, and so I arrived at home last night without a single clue about what had gone down.

Like in 2006, there were some pretty big trades that were made in the days and weeks leading up to the deadline. We already knew since Sunday that Craig Rivet was going to finish the year in a Sharks uniform. Peter Forsberg was already a Predator. We already knew Keith Tkachuk would be helping the Trashers reach the playoffs for the first time in their history. Brad Stuart had been a Flame for a while when Tuesday started, and Marc-Andre Bergeron had been with the Islanders for almost a week.

But Deadline Day did not disappoint when it comes to big trades. We saw Bill Guerin leave the Blues to join Craig Rivet in San Jose. The Penguins added some much needed grit and toughness with Gary Roberts from Calgary and Georges Laraque from Phoenix. Meanwhile, Toronto was adding Yanic Perreault, Detroit picked up Todd Bertuzzi and Dallas added Mattias Norstrom, the long time defenseman and captain of the L.A. Kings. F Jason Ward of the Kings took the direction of Tampa while D David Hale left New Jersey to become a depth defenseman for Darryl Sutter in Calgary. The Bruins lost faith in second-year center Brad Boyes (69 points as a rookie) and sent him to the Blues for defenseman Dennis Wideman. There were more trades, notably Martin Biron ending up in Philadelphia and Dainius Zubrus winding up in Buffalo.

But there is no doubt that the shocker of the day was Ryan Smyth leaving the team he cheered for as a youngster and the one he has embodied for the last 12 years, the Edmonton Oilers, for the shores of Long Island. Smyth was traded for 2 prospects and a draft pick. Now, as disappointed and frustrated as I felt last night, I understand that this is a business and that's how things work in the NHL. Smyth was asking for a 5-year/$5.5 million deal, and Kevin Lowe was not willing to go higher than 5-year/5.2 millions per year. Most Oiler fans will be mad at Lowe for not meeting Smyth's price, as I was yesterday, but there is also something a bit disgusting in seeing the heart and soul of a team, a guy who has been called "Captain Canada", decide he will not re-sign with the team he has played all his career for, and all that for $250,000 dollars. The reality is, both sides were thinking from a business standpoint... whatever that says about our favorite sport. I think more players should look at how Martin Brodeur has handled his own contract negotiations in his career. He is a great example of how these greedy bastards should conduct themselves. But anyway, it's done.

The fallout of this deal, however, is horrible, and on 2 fronts. First, losing Smyth means the Oilers will almost assuredly not make the playoffs (losing yesterday to Phoenix 3-0 won't help either). But it also means that by adding Smyth, as well as Bergeron last week and Richard Zednick too, the Islanders have just become a major player in the Eastern Conference Playoff picture. With the Islanders getting much better, Atlanta adding Tkachuck, Toronto adding Perreault, you might wonder where that leaves our beloved Canadiens. I still have hope they will make it into the postseason, but it will be very hard.

Dwarf out.


At 2:28 PM, Blogger Mathieu said...

I was listening to "face-a-face" on RDS last evening and I thought to myself that Alain Chantelois, better known as Le Baron, was right about at least one thing...Bob Gainey isn't the same man since the tragic disappearance of his beloved daughter. Gainey was forced by the NHL to speak to the press last week! And this week, he practises a complete "silence radio"


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