|Trade Deadline for Beginners ....|
|Tuesday, 03 March 2009 04:44|
Hi Ho Hockey fans. As I’m sure you can imagine this is MY time of year. This is where all of us journeyman have a bag packed by the back door much like a family expecting the arrival of their 1st child. From here on out every time the phone rings your heart skips a beat. Thank goodness for caller ID. I didn’t know which story to share so I thought I’d start at the beginning………My 1st Deadline Deal….
Allow me to set this one up:
It’s my first full season in the National Hockey League. I’ve had a few ups and downs to say the least: I was a holdout in Training Camp - against my will (more on that another time), had my best preseason ever (with only 1 day of practice I might add), started the season on the 2nd line (talk about fooling them), was a healthy scratch for the 1st time in the NHL (a role I would become VERY familiar with – but I think we covered that), had a minor 33 game goal scoring draught (but who’s counting?), worked my way on to one the top 2 lines (I was actually on a line with Teemu Selanne – I’m sure he remembers those days with fondness! I think that was the year he scored 76 goals…….or maybe not), and was playing the best hockey of my life as we approached the trade deadline. I finally felt like I belonged….
Fast Forward: It’s March of ‘98, we (Ducks) are way out of the playoffs. We have a few veterans and unrestricted free agents who will probably be traded for prospects or draft picks. I’m 25 and just coming into my own. Getting traded is the furthest thing from my mind (in the years to come you could find me in the fetal position sucking my thumb every March). In fact, my roommate, Scott Young, is going to become an unrestricted free agent in the summer. He figures he’s getting dealt for sure…so do I.
We are in Chicago and its deadline day. Deadline day is always exciting because its fun to see all the deals go down. Players love to see who went where, which teams got better, which ones got worse, which guys went to a contender, and which went to the Islanders, which GM has lost his mind (and there’s usually a few), and what new guys you have coming to your team. I believe the deadline was 3pm EST. Scotty and I were in our room waiting for the phone to ring to see where he got traded. At 3:30 we high five each other!! The deadline has passed and he didn’t get dealt. I was happy for him. I decided to go hit the gym down the street and get in a quick executive workout before dinner. As I’m about to walk in to my Jazzercize class there was an announcement over the PA “Would Sean Pronger please report to the front desk”. What the @#$%! Who could possibly want me? No one knows I’m here. Maybe I left my headband and mouth guard at the front. “Hi, I’m Sean Pronger….did I forget something?” No sir, you have a message to call your roommate. Oh boy….Younger got traded! I called Scotty to see where he went. “Scotty, where did you go?” “Nowhere! Pierre called; he wants you to call him” “Pierre? Our coach? Why does he want to talk to me” (so naïve the first time). Then it hit me….I’VE BEEN TRADED!!!....holy #@$%!!! I called Pierre and he asks “Have you spoken with Jack (Ferreira)?” “No I haven’t” OBVIOUSLY!!!! “You had better call him” “Why?” I said. I wanted to hear it from him…..”Please call him” he said….Can you believe that? Not even the courtesy to tell me……Just so you know, and I don’t want to name names, but the coach’s initials were Pierre Page. I called Jack. “Alright, where am I going?” “Pittsburgh” he said. For Patrick Lalime……A GOALIE!! Son of a…….!
Just like that, my career with the Anaheim Mighty Ducks was over. I remember sharing a cab to the airport with Warren Rychel (one of the all time characters in the NHL who just got traded back to Colorado) and him saying “I can’t believe you got traded”…Neither can I. I remember thinking to myself as I was boarding my flight “things happen for a reason…..maybe Pittsburgh is where I belong”……. HA