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Trade deadline discussion

Ted Purcell had six points for the Kings this year in 41 games and earned an assist in his first game with Tampa Bay. (Photo by Matt A. Brown/NHLI via Getty Images)

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Ted Purcell had six points for the Kings this year in 41 games and earned an assist in his first game with Tampa Bay. (Photo by Matt A. Brown/NHLI via Getty Images)

Nobody said all NHL trade deadline days would be a thrill a minute, did they?

There were times Wednesday I thought GMs were making deals just to meet some contractually-obligated number chosen beforehand by the TV networks. But I felt worst for the analysts who had to tap-dance until they were babbling and glassy-eyed by the end of it.

Imagine the desperate chatter that would occasionally ensue if all the competing weather channels gathered their meteorologists on the same day every year to analyze what kind of mega-storm a particular region was projected to deal with. In a lot of ways, the ludicrousness of that scene is mirrored by hockey’s trade deadline.

I bet you know where I’m going with this. That’s right: a mailbag with a high percentage of deadline day questions.

Hey Adam, The purpose of my email is to give a rabid (but sane and reasonable) Kings fan's perspective of your analysis of the trade deadline deals in the 'Winners/Losers' column you put out. As I'm sure you can guess, I think you got it slightly wrong!

I think you are missing the point on the deals the Kings made. One, the key words with Teddy Purcell are "NCAA force" (he's now 24 and in the AHL) and "potential." The Kings gave Teddy chances upon chances to stick in the bigs and he never stuck. Best wishes to him, but this is a classic "change of scenery" scenario.

Two, Ray Whitney clearly did not want to come West for anything less than a two- or three-year extension or he would have been a King three weeks ago...moot point. Finally, Alex Ponikarovsky was not the type of player the Kings needed. They needed two of three things: a depth defenseman, a faceoff-winning, two-way center/winger (Jeff Halpern), and a big-body winger who had playoff experience and could chip in a goal or two (Fredrik Modin...when healthy).

Two of three ain't bad and both Halpern and Modin are on expiring contracts...a big plus for a team with so much young talent and possibly in the hunt for a big-time scoring threat this summer. All in all, the Kings gave up a questionable prospect (in a slot where they are generally deep), a third and a seventh round draft pick. Not bad in my book.
James Harris, San Clemente, Calif.


Hey James,

I can’t deny it – you make a good case. But here’s why I reacted so harshly to Dean Lombardi’s deadline maneuvers: I wrote a story for our magazine last year on breakout players to watch and I spoke to a pro scout as well as a GM who swore up and down that Purcell had the chance to be a real force for a long time in the NHL.

So to see him move a year after that was quite shocking. I know Purcell wasn’t making any noise for the Kings this year, but 24 isn’t old at all in this league and to give him up – plus a third round pick! – in exchange for an above-average defensive presence who almost certainly will be a rental player made no sense to me.

When you say the team needs a big-body winger who can chip in goals, I agree. But I think what Ponikarovsky lacks in playoff experience, he more than makes up for in dependability – at least, in comparison to Modin, who is to fragility as Courtney Love is to a different kind of fragility. It would’ve been OK to swap Purcell for Ponikarovsky, but not for Halpern. (I didn’t say they had to get Whitney, but I do think they needed either he or Ponikarovsky.)

Back to the Purcell trade for a second. In ripping Lombardi, I associated the Kings GM with NFL cautionary management tale Matt Millen for that specific move. Upon further reflection, that was a little much. If I’m being completely honest, I wrote that piece at the end of a long, stressful day and I probably could’ve searched a little harder for the name of a GM who made a trade I strenuously disagreed with.

Don’t get me wrong – I still strenuously disagree with the decision to send Purcell to Tampa Bay. But I have apologize to Lombardi for invoking the image of an unmitigated disaster of a GM; he’s done too much good work with the Sharks, Flyers and Kings for that comparison to be fair.

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Adam: noticeably absent from your Best/Worst list of deadline day trades were the Boston Bruins. A lot of us felt GM Peter Chiarelli should’ve at least grabbed another scoring option to help them even make the playoffs. Why did they get a pass from you?
Jeff Casey, Cambridge, Mass.


Jeff,

I wouldn’t say the Bruins got a pass from me; you can only make a column so long before you start scrolling your audience to death and there were other teams who stood out in a worse way for me. Simple as that.

Now, that doesn’t mean I believe Chiarelli was right to only admit the Derek Morris experiment was not working as anticipated when they signed him last summer.

He could’ve had Lee Stempniak for a tad more than Phoenix paid for him (American Leaguer Matt Jones, a fourth and a seventh round pick). He could have acquired Raffi Torres, or taken a chance on Dustin Boyd, with no locked-in financial implications for either player beyond the rest of this season.

That he didn’t does not bode well for this team’s post-season hopes.

Hello Adam, I sense another work stoppage on the horizon (after the 2010-2011 season). In a sport where momentum is big, this could negatively impact the momentum hockey may have garnered at this year's Olympics. My question: Am I paranoid?
Dan Doughty, Lindstrom, Minn.


Hello Dan,

I wouldn’t say you’re wearing a tinfoil hat. I would say you’re approaching a point where you’ll be purchasing tinfoil in the next few months.

Of course, there’s a fair chance NHL team owners are even greedier than science has projected and they push the NHL Players’ Association to a point where they have no choice but to keep their signatures off a new collective bargaining agreement.

But who will believe the owners if they claim yet again the players are taking advantage of their competitive largesse? They got their “cost certainty” in 2005, so what’s next – cost super-certainty?

And if they still can’t make it work – as well as insist upon foisting their business failures on the backs of the players – I maintain they won’t get anywhere close to the support among fans they did five years ago.

That’s why I think even the owners have to realize there’s no benefit to either side in any kind of work stoppage. If they don’t, may the hockey gods put a pox on every one of their 35,000 square-foot houses.

Ask Adam appears Fridays on TheHockeyNews.com. Proteau also answers readers' questions in every issue of The Hockey News magazine and on The Hockey News Radio Show on XM Radio channel 204. To send us your question or comment, click HERE.

Adam Proteau 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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