There might be more to last week’s Steve Downie-for-Max Talbot trade than meets the eye.
In an interview with Sportsnet’s FAN 960 Calgary, CBC’s Elliotte Friedman reports that Colorado might’ve dumped Downie because of a preseason incident with team captain Gabriel Landeskog.
“Obviously, people thought it was a weird trade,” Friedman explained. “You rarely see a first-rounder get traded for a guy who — while a useful player — is now pretty much a fourth-liner.
“During training camp, Downie got angry at Landeskog for a trip during a scrimmage, and he drilled [Landeskog]. I was just told that from that day, considering Downie was a bit unrepentant about it, I just heard the Avalanche decided they were going to make the change at that time.
“Basically the Avalanche decided that when that happened, and Downie was unapologetic about it, the time was going to come when he was going to get dealt.”
Downie, the 29th overall pick in 2005, had seven points in 11 games for the Avs at the time of the deal. Talbot had 1G-1A in as many games for Philly.
As for the Downie-Landeskog incident in question, it was reported in the Denver Post on Sept. 14:
While there have been no fights so far, there was some bad blood today between Gabe Landeskog and Steve Downie at least. I didn’t see the whole thing, but Landy took major exception to a hit Downie gave him during scrimmages today and tried to go after him along the bench. But Downie, whose helmet flew off on his hit, was bending down to pick it up and couldn’t engage much.
So later, Landy got Downie in the corner and flat-out pitch-forked his feet from under him with his stick, sending Downie down on the ice. When Downie got up, he skated gingerly back to the bench, looking to have a leg that was not feeling too hot. He sat out a couple of shifts, but when he returned for a faceoff, with Landy lined up outside on the circle, he skated like the wind to get next to Landy just in time for the drop of the puck and there was a little more pushing and shoving from there.
The Post’s Adrian Dater also posted an interview with Landeskog following the incident.
Landeskog, 20, is the NHL’s youngest captain and it’s possible — assuming the Friedman anecdote is accurate — the decision to move Downie could’ve been related to stabilizing Landeskog’s leadership role on the team.
What’s more, this isn’t the first time Downie’s run into issues with teammates. His junior career was marred by an ugly hazing incident with OHL Windsor, culminating with Downie fighting teammate Akim Aliu during practice.
The incident saw Downie get traded to Peterborough and Windsor head coach Moe Mantha fired.