Yeah, yeah, we know that it’s far too early to know who really won
the trade deadline. Still, a team’s moves (or lack of moves) can tell
you a lot about their aggressiveness, confidence and overall plan. With
that in mind, let’s discuss some of the deadline’s winners and losers in
the Western Conference.
I was on the fence about the Ducks — they still have a ways to go to reach the playoffs — but one trade changed all that. Anaheim traded away the underperforming Ryan Whitney for Lubomir Visnovsky, a defensemen who will add some much needed firepower and stability to their blue line. They also added two goalies who will have the chance to battle out for the title of Jonas Hiller’s backup.
Yep, the Pacific Division got even stronger today. The Coyotes made a number of moves to improve their team, most notably adding Wojtek Wolski to the mix; he’s a guy that should really thrive under Dave Tippett’s tutelage. And I think the Coyotes were the only team that had any clue Mathieu Schneider still existed; he’s spent this season down in the AHL, so who knows what happens there. Derek Morris get’s another shot in Phoenix, and Jean-Luc Picard is playing hockey apparently.
Sorry, Alexandre. I won’t do that again.
The Avs and Coyotes swapped two players who are nearly the same but should do better in their new homes. If Peter Mueller can find a way to live up to his potential in Colorado, then a good team certainly improved immediately. They also added Stephane Yelle, who was merely a salary dump by the Hurricanes but will certainly help the Avs come playoff time.
Whether it was by design, by financial insecurity or the right deal just never came along, but the Dallas Stars stood pat while the Pacific Division improved around them. The Stars are in a tough spot — sell now and rebuild or try for the playoffs this season — and did nothing to help either case.
Just as we expected, the Oilers made traded away some major players and received little in return. Dennis Grebeshkov was gift-wrapped and handed to Nashville and Lubomir Visnovsky was given up for Ryan Whitney. Nothing more is needed to be said.
The Los Angeles Kings may owe Mike Richards money until 2031 (seriously), but in settling his grievance, the team and player more or less get to turn the page.
Not before Kings GM Dean Lombardi shares his sometimes startling perspective, though.
Lombardi has a tendency to be candid, especially in the press release-heavy world of sports management. Even by his standards, his account of Richards’ “destructive sprial” is a staggering read from the Los Angeles Times’ Lisa Dillman.
“Without a doubt, the realization of what happened to Mike Richards is the most traumatic episode of my career,” Lombardi said in a written summation he provided to the Los Angeles Times. “At times, I think that I will never recover from it. It is difficult to trust anyone right now – and you begin to question whether you can trust your own judgment. The only thing I can think of that would be worse would be suspecting your wife of cheating on you for five years and then finding out in fact it was true.”
Lombardi provides plenty of eyebrow-raising statements to Dillman, including:
- He believed he “found his own Derek Jeter” in Richards, a player who “at one time symbolized everything that was special about the sport.”
- Lombardi remarked that “his production dropped 50 percent and the certain ‘it’ factor he had was vaporizing in front of me daily.”
- The Kings GM believes that he was “played” by Richards.
Again, it’s a powerful read that you should soak in yourself, even if you’re unhappy with the way the Kings handled the situation.
Maybe the most pressing of many lingering questions is: will we get to hear Richards’ side of the story?
Despite owning two Stanley Cup rings, there are a healthy number of people who aren’t wild about Jonathan Quick.
Those people might feel validated through the Los Angeles Kings’ first two games, as he followed a rough loss to the San Jose Sharks with a true stinker against the Arizona Coyotes on Friday.
Sometimes a goalie has a bad night stats-wise, yet his team is as much to blame as anything else. You can probably pin this one on Quick, who allowed four goals on just 14 shots through the first two periods.
Things died down in the final frame, but let’s face it; slowing things down is absolutely the Coyotes’ design with a 4-1 lead (which ultimately resulted in a 4-1 win).
A soft 1-0 goal turned out to be a sign of things to come:
Many expected the Kings to roar into this second game after laying an egg in their opener. Instead, the Coyotes exploited Quick’s struggles for a confidence-booster, which included key prospect Max Domi scoring a goal and an assist.
It’s worth mentioning that Mike Smith looked downright fantastic at times, only drawing more attention to Quick’s struggles.
After a troubled summer and a failed 2014-15 season, Los Angeles was likely eager to start things off the right way.
Instead, they instead will likely focus on the fact that they merely dropped two (ugly) games.