When I was a kid growing up – as opposed to growing out, which I constantly have to fight now – the trade deadline was it.
Season opener? Bah. All-Star Game? Snore. Playoffs? Meh. Stanley Cup Game 7 triple OT-winner scored on a penalty shot? Can’t hold water compared to the NHL’s no-more-wheelin’-‘n’-dealin’ date.
I never missed one. Didn’t matter whether it was work, school or a close relative’s funeral, I was “sick” that day. No matter what.
Which is why it makes me more than a little disheartened when I read what Canadiens GM Bob Gainey told THN’s Mike Brophy in late January as part of a feature in the latest issue:
“There’s just not enough teams that on Feb. 26 are going to be able to, with real definitive clearness, declare, ‘We’re not a contender.’
“I think in the next three weeks 85 to 95 percent of the teams will be asking themselves how they can improve their chances of reaching the goal of getting into the playoffs.”
If I may extrapolate - it will be a light swap session this season thanks to low supply and high demand.
And while that fact will significantly decrease my workload on Feb. 26 – THN.com will have up-to-the-minute deadline-day updates with instant analysis on each deal – it surely makes for one helluva boring day.
But my – and other fans – excitement aside, there’s an inherent problem with Gainey’s analysis. The problem isn’t in what he says – what he says is completely true – the problem is teams’ philosophies.
The financial benefits of home playoff dates are well documented, but why is the goal just to make the playoffs? A team’s objective, plain and simple, should be to win the Stanley Cup and if that’s not realistic – and but for a handful of teams, it isn’t – you should be in full selling mode.
Trading for prospects and draft picks can drastically improve your chances of making a Cup run in the future, so why settle for two or three playoff home games now when you could have upwards of 16 in the not-too-distant future?
So, to the teams that are likely thinking of buying in an effort to make the post-season (that’s you, Capitals, Sabres, Bruins, Rangers, Thrashers, Panthers, Islanders, Flames, Predators, Avalanche, Canucks, Blue Jackets, Coyotes and Blues):
Don’t do it. Don’t be fooled into thinking this is your year. Build for the future and, on Feb. 26, sell, sell, sell.
We’ll both be better for it.
Edward Fraser is the editor of thehockeynews.com. His blog appears Thursdays.
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