Of all the trades completed today, was there one that left fans angrier than the one that saw Pittsburgh trade 23-year-old defenseman Simon Després to Anaheim for 31-year-old blue-liner Ben Lovejoy?
If there was, we missed it. Based on the comments we got here at PHT, the majority of Penguins fans were positively irate with GM Jim Rutherford for trading away young Després.
According to Rutherford, however, Lovejoy was a player that was highly coveted by those within the organization.
“He’s developed into a solid, consistent player,” he said. “Our guys felt very strongly about reacquiring this player.”
The Pens also acquired d-man Ian Cole, 26, from St. Louis, in return for 25-year-old defenseman Roberto Bortuzzo.
“When we looked at our defense, despite the fact that it’s played pretty well at this point, we were concerned about the experience,” Rutherford explained, per the club’s website. “We were looking to upgrade, add more of a veteran presence.
“We felt to have a good run in the playoffs we needed more experience and that’s why we made these two deals.”
The Pens certainly have experience back there now, with Lovejoy joining a blue-line corps that already included Kris Letang, Paul Martin, Christian Ehrhoff, and Rob Scuderi.
And to be fair to Rutherford, perhaps he felt giving up Després was worth the risk with youngsters Olli Maatta and Derrick Pouliot in the organization.
That being said, these deals will only increase the pressure on the Penguins to make a deep run in the playoffs. You can bet the fans will remember today if things don’t go well.