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Screen Shots: Mentally preparing for the deadline

Defenseman Scott Niedermayer is rumored to be on his way out of Anaheim before the March 4 trade deadline. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images)

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Defenseman Scott Niedermayer is rumored to be on his way out of Anaheim before the March 4 trade deadline. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images)

Veteran observers of the National Hockey League are painfully familiar with the general tedium and intermittent bursts of intrigue that usually comprise its annual trade deadline day.

Each and every year, some pundits and most of the public practically drool in anticipation of blockbuster swap after blockbuster swap. And each and every year, that scenario fails to materialize.

Nobody wants that sense of crushing disappointment to befall any hockey fan less than I do. So, with the 2009 cutoff date for deals fast approaching, here are five tips for handling trade deadline day like a pro.

1. Any Theoretical Trade That Makes Perfect Sense To You And Your Precious Little Team Almost Certainly Will Make Management And Fans Of The Proposed Trading Partner Guffaw Until Each Of Their Funny Bones Shatter Into 1,000 Giggling Pieces. I can’t tell you how many Ask Adam questions I’ve received in the past three weeks suggesting transactions that, if I brought them to a GM for input, would result in my immediate excommunication from the question-posing community.

The ideal way to judge any potential swap is to put yourself in the position of the team you don’t root for and see if it can (a) be even remotely rationalized from a talent exchange perspective; and more importantly, (b) work under the league’s salary cap constraints.

If it fails the smell test on either of those fronts, the proposition should be placed down very gently and backed away from very quietly – and you should forever deny any association with, or knowledge of, such nonsense.

2. Just About Every Trade Made On Deadline Day Will Not Have The Desired Effect Of Securing A Championship. One of the reasons so many GMs are so hesitant to enter into deadline day deals is the exorbitant asking prices for talent – and the knowledge only one team will reap the ultimate benefit from paying those prices.

As a result, teams are much more likely to tinker with their lineups than remake them altogether. Temper your expectations accordingly.

3. If Your Team Doesn’t Make A Deal, The World Will Not Cease To Spin. I’m sensing this rule will apply particularly this season to fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Many of those people believe GM Brian Burke is going to hold a conference call auction for all of his players not named Luke Schenn, and by the end of the day, the Leafs will have at least three additional franchise cornerstones in place.

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I’m sure Burke would say ‘phooey’ (and a whole lot more) to such an expectation and direct fan attention not too far down the road to the 2009 NHL Entry Draft that will take place June 26 in Montreal.

The draft marks the next pressure point for trades to be made and also has the added benefit for GMs of operating in a vastly increased market of potential suitor teams that all are in the same position in the standings.

Ergo, in the event your team stands completely pat on deadline day, put down the sharp objects and recognize hope remains on the horizon.

4. Repeat After Me: I. Promise. Not. To. Contact. Rumor. Websites. And. Pretend. I’m. Vinny. Lecavalier’s. Eighth. Cousin. Who. Knows. Where. The. Lightning. Captain. Is. Being. Traded. Please, for the love of the Hockey Gods, I’m begging you on this one.

5. Have Some Sympathy For The TV People Who’ll Be Tap-Dancing As Fast As They Can Throughout The Process. There are usually a couple cranks in every social circle who love nothing better than to rip on the talking heads whose job it is to fill 12 hours or more with opinion and analysis on deadline day.

All I can say to those folks is, could you do any better? Could you stand before a camera for a half-day and not wind up trembling uncontrollably, wetting yourself and pleading for mercy at some point?

Okay, maybe you’d be fine if you had significant on-air experience with the Weather Channel. But otherwise, kindly put a hockey sock in it and enjoy the hard work and preparation that was put into the product.

Adam Proteau, co-author of the book The Top 60 Since 1967, is writer and columnist for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Mondays, his Ask Adam feature appears Fridays and his column, Screen Shots, appears Thursdays.

For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, Subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.

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