"Rather than spit some outsider gibberish about what we think about the trade deadline we asked friend of the Nation Brian Sutherby – veteran of 460 NHL games and a fella who has been traded twice – what its like to go through the deadline as an NHL player.
It’s kinda like cheating on a test. Why learn math when we can ask the smartest kid in the class to take the test for us? That’s good thinkin’ right there.
The rest of this article is all him as they say* But we take all the credit for forcing him to write it with all the threatening BBMs that we have sent that arrive in the middle of the night due to the time difference.
Classic." – Wanye
*This is rarely if ever said
IT’S THAT TIME AGAIN
With the trade deadline just around the corner virtually everyone in the Hockey world is busy discussing the big day nearly to death. Even though the hype machine seems to kick in earlier every year, it is a time that rarely disappoints hockey fans. It’s also a time where I get a kick out of seeing all the different perspectives of “Deadline Day”.
There is always a lot of excitement and buildup to the date. The media fall all over themselves for player reactions and hope for a record number of trades. Sports channels offer round the clock coverage in the days leading up and usually spend the deadline day with the hosts staring at each other and filling the airwaves with anything and everything that will fill the time, waiting for something to finally happen.
Some fans are anxious to see if their team is adding a prospect or that key component for a deep playoff run. Other fans find themselves begging for an implosion of their entire organization. While all this is going on, the majority of players would just be happy with none of the above.
Not every player wants to stay off the transaction wire on Trade Deadline Day. There are some players who would welcome a trade to benefit their careers, hoping for a better situation or more ice time. Others seek more money in free agency and realize a trade in February is imminent. Then there are the older players who are looking for one last kick at the Cup and are sought after as invaluable parts of a Cup Run.
But for the most part, I’d have to say most players let out a big sigh of relief when the deadline comes and goes. This is not to say the guys who get dealt to a contender are mad or upset when they do get traded. There are certainly worse situations to find themselves in, but most guys are relieved it’s not their name scrolling across the ticker on that day.
I have been traded twice now and a mid-season trade is a whirlwind. From the moment you receive word, your life in that city is literally flipped upside down. You’re asked to say goodbye to teammates, trainers, and friends you have made along the way.
Literally within hours you are expected to pack as much as you can and board a flight to the new city you will call home. Many guys have to leave their wife, children, and belongings behind for the rest of the season.
The first time I was traded was in November of the 2007-2008 season. It was just after a morning skate when I was called into the George McPhee’s office and delivered the news that I was leaving Washington, my home for the past 5 seasons and on my way to Anaheim. It did not come as a shock.
For whatever reason at that time it was evident something was going to happen with me and I was very open to a deal. As ready as I was for that move, nothing can really prepare you for that first trade. It was an eye opener for me, and a big change that took some getting used to.
I spent just over a calendar year in Orange County growing to love where I was, making great friends and really hitting stride at the start of the 2008-2009 season considering I was playing just seven minutes a night.
I wheeled into the rink on a December morning just like any other practice and was greeted by our equipment trainer who told me Bob Murray wanted to see me in his office. My Heart Rate went through the roof; I knew right then, exactly what I was walking into.
I was blown away. I didn’t see it coming whatsoever.
He told me that I was going to Dallas and thanked me for my brief stay. I loved it there, but Anaheim needed to make cap space for some guy named Bobby Ryan who went on to score 126 goals in his first 307 NHL games and was never heard from again.
Coincidently, Dallas needed a gritty guy to fill a hole left by some guy that made fun other guy’s girlfriends on TV and was suspended 6 games that very day. And that was that, another move in the books.
I was absolutely stunned and saddened by the move but I was also walking into a great situation with a team that had a role for me, and a great coach. With one trade under my belt I was more prepared this go around but none the less I wouldn’t ever call it a “fun” transition.
AT THE END OF THE DAY
As players we are paid extremely well, to do something we love and we are very grateful for the fact that we can do such a thing for a living. Every player understands the ups and downs and the lack of stability within the lifestyle, but stability is often what is sought after most.
Pressure on GM’s to make trades is abundant this time of year and it is generally an uneasy time for most players. Whether guys will admit it or not, for a couple weeks in February there is always that lingering pit in your stomach of what if it’s me? What if I get tossed in a deal?
Anyone that has been transferred or taken a job in another city has dealt with and likely understands the difficulty of such a life altering move. Now imagine you are told to leave in 5 hours! It makes for a circus that most guys would hope happens in the summer or on their own terms.
If I had never been traded I’m not sure I would have the same feelings, but now when a trade occurs I have a soft spot for those unsuspecting guys and their families. I find myself often picturing what they are dealing with or wondering what loose ends they have to tie up in the city they left behind.
On the flip side fans and media this time of year seem to be frothing at the mouth in anticipation for who’s going where and can’t wait to see what unfolds. It’s always fascinating to see the way the game is viewed among fans, media, and players.
WHAT ABOUT YOU?
Just as players can be blindsided by trades, fans can be equally taken aback by a sudden move. Has your GM ever snuck one past you at the deadline? What was the deal you didn’t see coming?
No matter what you wish for come February 27th, we will all be glued to the TV or Twitter for all the latest. We may just be hoping for different things.
Let the trades begin!