February 25, 2008

Reliving Trades of the Days of Yore

With about 24 hours until the official trade deadline in the NHL season, it’s time to take a look at trades from the past which shows the genius of one GMs, idiocy of others (get ready Mr. Milbury), and ones that may have been overlooked. I’ll be using the February 26th edition of the Hockey News as the standard issue.

The Hockey News has all their beat writers out there tell their team’s best and worst move. For some teams, like those who have come in within the past 15 years, it’s easy—but more complex for franchise who have been around since the dawning of the NHL itself. Now, I won’t go team-by-team, that’d be boring and page filler that is truly….truly unnecessary; but like I said—only the highlights.

The obvious no-brainers on this list, like for both Edmonton and Los Angeles, it was the acquisition and subsequent departure of Wayne Gretzky. Why not?? The Oilers got him for $850,000 from the Indianapolis Racers. Along with Gretzky, the Oilers got Eddie Mio, Peter Driscoll, and five Stanley Cups. The departure of Gretzky brought sorrow and riots in Edmonton, while in Los Angeles it dawned a new era of hockey not just on the West Coast, but in the entire United States. Gretzky’s departure from LA to St. Louis brought about the start of some struggles for the Kings franchise, which may still linger today.

There’s plenty of trades that mark franchises, like the Vancouver Canucks parting with Alek Stojanov and sending him to Pittsburgh for an unknown youngster named Markus Naslund. Another big deal was for the Montreal Canadiens trading Rod Langway, Brian Engblom, Doug Jarvis, and Craig Laughlin to the Washington Capitals for Ryan Walter and Rick Green. Not only did that mark four color commentators traded in one deal (Walter, Green, Engblom and Laughlin), but it gave the Capitals a top-notch defenseman, who won two Norris trophies in the process.

Also in these trades, it showed the demise of some general managers—like Mike O’Connell trading Joe Thornton, the franchise player for the Boston Bruins, to San Jose for Marco Sturm, Wayne Primeau, and Brad Stuart. Of those three, only Sturm is in Boston, and thriving quite well…but not as well as Thornton. You also have those who ditch talent from a knee-jerk situation, like when Detroit traded Adam Oates and Paul MacLean for Bernie Federko and Tony McKegney. Oates then tagged up with Brett Hull to become one of the most lethal combinations in the 1990s. Though, truth be told, my 17-month old daughter could probably pot 30+ goals with Oates setting her up.

Then you get the gems like what Mike Milbury has pulled in his tenure as GM. Which ones do you choose?? How about Roberto Luongo and Olli Jokinen to Florida for Mark Parrish and Oleg Kvasha?? How about Zdeno Chara, Bill Muckalt, and the 2nd overall pick in the draft (Jason Spezza) for Alexei Yashin?? Who can forget Bryan McCabe, Todd Bertuzzi, and draft pick Jarkko Ruutu for Trevor Linden?? All of these moves and you wonder why he’s now an analyst for TSN and not in the boardroom making these moves.

Then you have trades that go really unnoticed, like New Jersey swapping Tom Kurvers in 1989 for the Toronto Maple Leafs’ first round pick in 1991. That pick turned out to be Scott Niedermayer, a catalyst in the three Cups for the Devils. Or Sergei Zubov to Dallas from Pittsburgh for Kevin Hatcher, another defenseman who helped turn a franchise around. And who can forget Paxton Schulte getting dealt from the Colorado Avalanche to Calgary for Vesa Viitakoski?? I mean, that trade at the deadline in 1996 could have been what won the Cup for the Avs that summer…..or not.

What will we see this trade deadline?? Obviously, there could be some fire sales going on in places like Los Angeles, Tampa Bay, or even in Toronto. You’ll hear a lot of “insiders” talking about guys waiving and then not waiving their no-trade clauses, and plenty of filler time at the beginning because nothing will happen until the last hour.

However you watch it, you should stick you browser to Going Five Hole because I’ll be here to help you through the whole deadline. We’ll try to get started at 9:30am ET, but it could be earlier, could be later—you’ll just have to keep it tuned here and keep reloading each minute. Should be a fun time for all.

Check out Scotty Wazz on the FaceOff Hockey Show LIVE every Wednesday night from 9-11pm EST or download their podcast wherever you get your podcasts.

Ballhype: hype it up!

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