For all die-hard hockey fans, the NHL Trade Deadline is like a second Christmas (or only, for some). We all anxiously await its coming, get up early on the day of, and then lounge around the house with baited breath, following our sources on Twitter, waiting for the tiniest shred of information about a trade involving our favorite team. I think I speak for all New York Rangers’ fans when I say that today, we all felt like a teenager who was expecting a new car for Christmas, only to find that the only thing we would be getting was a Hot Wheels left in our stocking. Rumors ran wild these last few weeks about the Rangers’ interest in Brad Richards, and even Paul Stastny and John Michael Liles to a degree, but instead, fans will have to settle for a player who has spent most of this season in the AHL, playing for the farm team of the Toronto Maple Leafs. That player, is John Mitchell.
Do not misunderstand me, this is not a bad trade at all (people have told me that Mitchell actually has a decent skill set, so it could end up being a steal), considering the Rangers gave up only a 7th round pick in 2012 for this 26-year-old center, but for deadline day, it really came as a shot through the heart. This was not made early in the day, but right after three o’clock, minutes after the deadline closed. It was as if it was to torture us, making us wait all this time to find that the only trade the Rangers made was something that would have gone almost unnoticed if it happened on any other day of the season.
I was on a Skype call with fellow writer Joe Aiello, and he was livid, having been up and watching TSN’s “Trade Center” show since 8am this morning. Lucky for me, I was in math class for a few hours this morning (the quiz I took seemed more exciting compared to yet another embarrassing and pointless seven hour broadcast), so I did not have to sit idly by, wasting countless hours for major news that would never come. Joe said many things after it was announced, most of which cannot be repeated on this blog, but it was really funny, seeing someone at wit’s end complaining. He had valid reason, though, as we really felt that Richards was going to be a New York Ranger this afternoon. I suppose it is possible the Rangers have another deal coming, because sometimes they are delayed, but it is highly unlikely.
In a way, can this really be a surprise to anyone? Sather is a magician at trades, but when was the last time he has made a blockbuster deal at the deadline, at least after the lockout, especially one that had rumors following it for weeks? Personally, I cannot think of one. He acquired Sandis Ozolinsh in 2006, Paul Mara in 2007, Derek Morris in 2009, and most recently, Anders Eriksson last season. Whatever deals he gets done usually happens in the middle of the season.
Part of me is happy that he stood pat today, because Dallas’ asking price for Richards was just too high. It will only end up being a mistake on their part, because he will leave in July and they got absolutely nothing for him. As disappointed as I am, kudos to Sather for not giving in to a ridiculous price that may have included some high-end youngsters.
Either way, it is a lose-lose situation for Glen Sather. If he made a trade, fans would complain he gave up too much and should have done nothing. Now that he did nothing, fans will complain that he should have given in to get Richards. But the deadline is now over, and we must look to the stretch-run. The players we see on this team now are the ones that will push for the playoffs. The question is, do they have what it takes?