Often times, after the trade deadline has passed, hockey websites will compile a list of “winners” and “losers.” These listings generally involve teams that were active at the trade deadline. While I have no problem with these articles (as they are generally a good read), I always find myself wondering why other general managers, who decided not to pull the trigger, are excluded from the “winners” section. The odd time, teams are criticized for not doing enough and are, therefore, cast as “losers” post trade deadline. On the other hand, you rarely, if ever, see a team cast as a “winner” after doing hardly anything come deadline time.
We do not have to look far for an example of this phenomenon. Last season, Ducks GM Brian Burke decided to add checking forward Brad May at the trade deadline and that was it. He did not acquire a go-to scorer, or another top tier defenseman; instead, he liked his current roster and decided to add a character player such as May as a depth forward. In hindsight, this was a terrific move. Not only did Burke not mortgage the future for a quick fix, but he did not mortgage the future and still went on to win the Stanley Cup. That being said, you did not see any commentator say after last season’s trade deadline that Brian Burke was a “winner.” Though it may seem surprising, sometimes the best move is to do little, if anything, when it comes to player movement.
That brings us to the 2007/08 trade deadline. After the February 26th deadline passed, many were quick to criticize Bob Gainey for not bringing aboard another go-to scorer, and for dealing off his veteran netminder Cristobal Huet. Fans and commentators alike believed that Gainey subtracted from his roster and handcuffed his team’s chances come playoff time. While the playoffs have yet to be played, the Habs have already become one of the first teams to qualify for the big dance. Furthermore, the Habs are currently the number one seed in the Eastern Conference. Is that success attributed to a deadline acquisition like Brad Richards or Marian Hossa? I did not think so. Rather, that success should be attributed to Montreal’s both experienced and youthful roster; a roster that has not seen much change over the course of the season.
It says here that It is about time that Gainey receive some credit for not being active at the trade deadline. His trust in his young players, including but not limited to Carey Price, should be commended. Sometimes the best move is to trust your team, its chemistry and its ability to grow as the season moves along. Gainey’s work proves that you don’t always have to be active to be a “winner.”
For Illegal Curve, I’m Richard Pollock.