Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
(Editor's note: Welcome to Sean McIndoe's weekly grab bag, where he writes on a variety of NHL topics. You can follow him on Twitter. Check out the Biscuits podcast with Sean and Dave Lozo as they discuss the events of the week.)
The third star: This ECHL team—This is the best jersey retirement mishap since the Great Markus Naslund Frowny Face Incident.
Three stars of comedy
The second star: The Arizona Coyotes—Thank you for taking a stand on the important issues. Well, not taking a stand, I guess. You know what I mean.
The first star: Referee Gord Dwyer—He's not having your backtalk, and also he has teleportation powers. This is me with my kids like five times a day.
Attention fans in 112: We don't do the wave here.
— #Yotes (@ArizonaCoyotes)February 21, 2017
All the scene is missing is a teary-eyed Wes McCauley teleporting in to sweetly ask everybody to please stop FIGHTING.
This week's trivial annoyance is the DeMarcus Cousins trade.Yes, I know, that was an NBA deal. But it tells us a lot about the NHL. And it's a move that hockey fans should keep in mind over the next week.We've beaten the "NHL GMs are too timid to trade" thing into the ground around here; if you missed it, I had an extended rant on the subject in last week's podcast. By now, we all know most of the excuses. The salary cap made trading impossible. There's too much parity. There aren't enough sellers. Prices are too high. My job is [pouts and stamps feet] just too hard…But there's another excuse that comes up around this time of year, especially when it comes to bigger names, and it goes like this: You can't make those deals during the season, because they're just too complicated.
Trivial annoyance of the week
Yep. Too complicated. There's just no way that an NHL front office could ever unravel the complexity of a hockey trade over the course of several weeks or months. You have to wait until the summer. Be realistic, fans.You've already seen this one trotted out for a Matt Duchene trade. And you can count on it showing up eventually just about any time anyone with any term left on their deal is mentioned in a midseason rumor.But is it true? Are NHL trades really that complicated? Sure, there are millions of dollars involved, but that's the case for plenty of business transactions that get done all around the world every day, often very quickly. NHL players all have standard contracts under the modern CBA, and apart from bonus structure and the occasional no-trade clause, they're all the same. Draft picks are draft picks, and everyone has access to reams of data and scouting reports on even the most obscure prospect.So you might think that putting together an NHL trade, even a big one, would be relatively straightforward these days. Not easy, since you still have to negotiate your way to what goes where, and certainly not risk-free. But complicated?Apparently so. Just can't be done, you see. All these front offices with millions of dollars' worth of executives, assistants, consultants and capologists on the payroll, and they just can't crack the code. Check back in four months, we might have something for you then.
Meanwhile, the NBA just saw a trade involving five players, two picks and potentially hundreds of millions of dollars in salary commitment, and it all basically came together over a weekend.Make no mistake: Trading in the NBA is way more complicated than in the NHL. It's not even close. Hockey GMs love to drone on about balancing the cap hit in trades, but they're under no actual requirement to do so. In the NBA, there are all sorts of rules around how the dollars even out in trades. Those dollars are also way higher than anything we see in the NHL, because basketball players make so much more. NBA trades can also involve cash payments and CBA considerations like cap exceptions. And that's before we even get to the draft picks — traded picks in the NBA have more terms and conditions than an iTunes update.And yet trades get done, even during the season. Big ones. Small ones. All kinds of different trades. At one point this week, the Indiana Pacers started putting out feelers about trading their best player literally one day before the deadline. But NHL GMs need half a season to figure out a basic Matt Duchene-for-a-plickspect trade?And sure, maybe the Cousins deal was a bad one. But the point is that it didn't have to wait for months while a committee from around the organization got around to signing off in triplicate. It's almost as if when a pro sports team actually wants a trade to happen, they find a way make it happen.
The lesson: Your favorite team's NHL GM may have all sorts of good reasons for not making a trade. But if he tries to tell you that making a move during the season is "too complicated", then he's either an imbecile or he's lying because he thinks you are.
So yeah, we've made it pretty clear over the years that we think today's NHL GMs are far too timid when it comes to trading. But we'll admit that there is a degree of risk involved in any deal, including at the deadline. Case in point: This week's obscure player, Alek Stojanov.Stojanov was a hulking winger who went seventh overall to the Canucks in the 1991 draft, one pick behind Peter Forsberg. He'd been a wrecking ball in junior, putting up decent point totals and plenty of PIMs — legend had it that he'd even been one of the few to win a fight against Eric Lindros. He wasn't ready for the big league yet, and would spend two more years in junior before missing a season due to injury. He finally made his NHL debut in 1995, playing four games with the Canucks.He settled in for full-time duty the following season, but didn't have much impact beyond holding his own with heavyweights — through 58 games, he had just a single point. But that toughness attracted the attention of the Penguins, a team packed with skill that was looking for a bit more sandpaper. And so, on deadline day in 1996, the Penguins sent their own first rounder from that 1991 draft to Vancouver in a straight-up swap for Stojanov.
Obscure former player of the week
It didn't work out all that well for Pittsburgh. Stojanov lasted just 45 games with the Pens, and was out of the league for good by 1997. His final career NHL totals: 107 games, two goals, seven points and 222 PIMs.As for the Canucks, their end of the deal turned out slightly better. The kid they picked up was a Swedish winger named Markus Naslund, and he'd go on to become the franchise's all-time leader in goals and points. It remains one of the best trade deadline pickups of all-time, not to mention one of the most lopsided trades in NHL history.
Patrik Laine had another big week, scoring twice in his showdown against Calder Trophy co-favorite Auston Matthews on Tuesday. He now leads all freshmen with 30 goals and 54 points, and is having the best season by a Winnipeg Jet rookie since Teemu Selanne.Except, apparently, he's not.That's because Patrik Laine of the Winnipeg Jets and Teemu Selanne of the Winnipeg Jets played for two separate franchises. Selanne's version is now the Arizona Coyotes, having moved there in 1996. Laine's version used to be the Atlanta Thrashers, and moved to Winnipeg in 2011.That means the record books stay separate. Laine and Selanne may both be Winnipeg Jets, but they never played for the same team. And that means Laine has already set the franchise record for rookie goals, beating the mark held by Ilya Kovalchuk.This is dumb.Look, I get it — franchise relocations are tricky. But the stuff we pick and choose to recognize gets confusing. Everyone considers the Dallas Stars to be carrying on the history of the Minnesota North Stars, even though half of that team also went to San Jose, but we don't mention that the North Stars once merged with the Cleveland Barons. It can all be a mess. Where do you draw the line?
Be It Resolved
Well, here's where you draw the line: When it's the same city and the same name, then it's the same freaking team.That's actually how the NFL has done it, more or less – today's Cleveland Browns are considered the same team with the same history as the original version, even though that team moved to Baltimore and became the Ravens in 1996. The Ravens were treated as starting from scratch, and the old Browns record book remains in Cleveland, where it will theoretically be updated if the new Browns ever get an actual good player.They even kind of do the same thing in Ottawa, where the modern Senators have adopted some of the history of the old-time edition, including all their Cup banners and a retired number. That's a little weird since we're talking about a gap of nearly a century, but why not, we'll allow it.We should do the same with Winnipeg. And if the Hartford Whalers or Quebec Nordiques come back, we'd do it for them too. Minnesota chose a new start when they went with a new name for their expansion team in 2000, and that's fine too. But same name = same team.So be it resolved: Coyotes history starts in 1996, Thrashers history ends in 2011, and the Winnipeg Jets are one team that existed from 1979 through 1996, and then returned from 2011 until whenever Laine signs a free agent deal with Toronto and the franchise immediately folds. Until that day arrives, Laine is chasing Selanne's record, Mark Scheifele is the next Dale Hawerchuk, and [tries and fails to think of a good current-day Jets goalie] is carrying on the legacy of [tries and fails to think of a good past Jets goalie].
Also, they maintain full custody of the White Out. No visitation rights for the Coyotes.
With the deadline looming, there are plenty of big names in play and lots of rumors swirling. Most of those won't happen — that's just the nature of the NHL, especially these days. And if the deadline turns out to be a quiet one, we'll no doubt be reminded of that old cliché: Sometimes the best deals are the ones you don't make.That's undoubtedly true. But a lesser-known corollary is that sometimes, the deals you don't make also produce the best sound bites. And that's especially true when they involve two GMs who don't take any crap from anyone, as we found out 16 years ago this week.
Classic YouTube clip breakdown
- So it's February 21, 2001, and we've got a breaking story out of Toronto and Philadelphia: Nothing is happening. That's big news, because at this point we've spent the last few days assuming the two teams were about to pull off a blockbuster involving Eric Lindros. As we're about to find out: Nope.
- OK, let's get something out of the way early. I realize this is the second time in the last month that we've done a YouTube section on a Maple Leafs trade, and over the history of this feature, they tend to show up a little bit more than they probably should. I don't know what to tell you, fans of other teams. You just needed to bear down and do a better job of obsessively recording and then preserving VHS tapes of everything your team did a generation ago.
- So yeah, Lindros. This is the year after he suffered a concussion on that legendary Scott Stevens hit, and he's yet to play a game. He's healthy, but he's refusing to sign a deal with the Flyers and is trying to force them into a trade. He wants to come to Toronto and play for his hometown Leafs, and up until now it's seemed like he'd get his way.
- Hey, it's a young Steve Kouleas, who throws to a report from the ACC. Our reporter lays out what we know: The Leafs and the Flyers had a deal: Lindros for Nik Antropov, Danny Markov and a first. Everything was all approved, and then Philadelphia pulled the plug, demanding Tomas Kaberle instead.
- We cut to Leafs' GM Pat Quinn, and he's not mincing words. "I'm not very happy with how all this transpired," he tells us. "I don't like the way the thing went down very much. We met what they asked for, word for word."
- Yikes. Those are pretty strong words from a GM. Those guys almost never call each other out, but Quinn's basically labelling the Flyers crooks here. I sure hope the Flyers' GM is the sort of calming presence who can get everything under… what's that? Bobby Clarke you say? Well, this won't end well.
- "Look, this 'Poor Pat Quinn' scenario is a bunch of bullshit." OK, yep, that's a solid start.
- I'd call that Clarke soundbite unfortunate, but when you're the sort of guy who once said that a cancer patient "went goofy on us", it's really all pretty much uphill from there.
- Clarke doesn't exactly deny that he changed the deal at the last minute, but clearly doesn't have much sympathy for Quinn. Also not high on his list of things he cares about: radio obscenity bylaws.
- "I don't give a shit about the Toronto Maple Leafs." Well, OK then. Geez, Bobby. You're never going to get a job in the Canadian hockey media with that kind of attitude.
- What's the power ranking of current general managers who'd be the most likely to go on live radio and start dropping profanity at a fellow GM? Are there any? [everyone raises their hand] Remember, Brian Burke isn't technically the Flames' GM anymore. [everyone lowers their hand]
- For the record, I'm going: 1. Ron Hextall 2. Garth Snow 3. Tim Murray 4. Lou Lamoriello and 5. Doug Wilson. Maybe Marc Bergevin too, but he'd do it in French so we'd all miss it.
- Least likely to go on a tirade: John Chayka, who's too young to know any of those words, and probably Kevin Cheveldayoff, just because he'd mishear "tirade" as "trade" and immediately hang up the phone.
- We cut back to Quinn, who manages to keep it PG while complaining about all the names leaking out. That leads us to some clips of the players involved, including Certifiably Crazy Danny Markov, who is wearing cool shades but sadly does not end his interview with a salute.
- Antropov has to go and mention his wife and children, briefly reminding us that these are real people and trades have real consequences on real lives. I skipped over this part and recommend you do too.
- We get some excuse-making for the Leafs having to deal with distractions, and a clip of Lindros in which he doesn't make any sound, either because the audio cuts out or because Clarke has made everyone work on a seven-second delay.
- In hindsight, the Leafs deal was probably better than Clarke ultimately got, although not significantly. Clarke was right about Kaberle, who turned out to be the only true impact player out of all the names that were being tossed around.
- As for Clarke, to this day he still does not give a shit about the Toronto Maple Leafs.