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Deadline experience tough for some players

Tuesday, 04.02.2013 / 11:23 PM
Dan Rosen  - NHL.com Senior Writer

As the 2012 NHL Trade Deadline approached, Minnesota Wild defenseman Nick Schultz was doing his job when Minnesota Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher called him into the office and told him he would no longer be working in the only NHL market Schultz knew.

Fletcher traded Schultz to the Edmonton Oilers on deadline day, Feb. 27, 2012, in exchange for defenseman Tom Gilbert. Schultz had to be on a flight to Edmonton that night.

"I was in shock," Schultz told NHL.com as the 2013 deadline approached. "[Fletcher] thanked me for everything and that was it. I didn't really say anything to him. I was in shock and couldn't really believe it. I was there for 10 years and then, poof, I was packing my bags and moving on. It happens in a hurry."

Odds are it will happen to someone else before this year's NHL Trade Deadline passes at 3 p.m. ET Wednesday.

That's the nature of the business of hockey. It's part of the deal which players understand, but that doesn't make getting traded any easier to handle, especially when, like Schultz, a family has to be factored into the equation.

"There are a lot of elements that happen that people don't really think about it," Schultz said. "I definitely have a greater respect for it now. There's a lot more going on than just showing up and being there to play games, but that's the professional side and you have to learn to deal with that too."

Before contemplating the litany of off-the-ice situations to be handled, including the uprooting of his family, Schultz had to come to grips with the trade itself.

He didn't see it coming. He got teary-eyed at the time speaking to the media.

"It was something where leading up to [the deadline] my name wasn't really out there in any rumors that I was getting traded so I didn't have any inclination that I was going to get dealt," Schultz said. "I came off from practice, got called in to talk to Chuck, and he told me he had traded me to Edmonton. It wasn't easy to leave."

It was even harder to have to call his wife, Jessica, and tell her he had to leave -- even harder yet to tell his three children about the trade.

Schultz said his youngest son, then 4, was trying to figure out what was happening but couldn't quite put the pieces together.

"I don't think he understood it until I was gone and he saw me on TV in a different uniform," Schultz said. "He understands it now that he's a little older. Even with the Trade Deadline now we're watching TSN and he's asking, 'Is this guy getting traded?' But it's tough on kids. Mine are still young enough that they're pretty adaptable to new situations, but as they get older I'm sure it's harder and harder to do it."

The good thing is Schultz knew the Oilers were not going to the Stanley Cup Playoffs last spring, so he would be gone for only six weeks before returning to Minnesota to set in motion the family's full-time move to Edmonton.

"The hardest part is the family thing where all of a sudden you're gone," Schultz said. "People are cemented in there and have a routine. To pick up and come right to Edmonton, they wouldn't have any stuff going on. It's hard. You have to leave your wife high and dry. It's already pretty hectic as it is, but even more so when you're gone for an extended period.

"Even this year when we [the Oilers] had that long 17-day road trip, my son was wondering, 'How long until you're home again?'"

Schultz and his wife are from Saskatchewan and make Calgary their summer home, so living in Edmonton now does at least put them closer to family. However, he said Jessica had grown accustomed to living in Minnesota.

"That was our home," Schultz said. "We spent nine to 10 months out of the year there and it became our home base. It was tough to leave there. It took time but I think she's used to it now being in another spot."

Similarly, Schultz's son, now 5, has made new friends in his kindergarten class, but Schultz said he still asks about the ones he left behind in Minnesota.

"He had some good friends there," Schultz said. "We met some great families there that we became friends with who had kids around the same age as ours. He had some good little buddies there that he played soccer with or T-ball or went to school with. He still asks about them every once in a while.

"It's hard when you're family is used to being in one spot and comfortable and you get uprooted. It's hard to leave a situation that you're used to."

Selanne knows what it's like

Anaheim Ducks forward Teemu Selanne has never been traded on deadline day, but he has been moved late in the season twice in his career. Selanne found both trades difficult to take because they each came as a shock.

"Your first reaction is that you're just so disappointed about everything and you almost feel like you failed, that they don't want you anymore," Selanne told NHL.com. "But at the same time you know there is a team that really wants your services, so that's a good thing."

The Winnipeg Jets dealt Selanne to the Ducks on Feb. 5, 1996. He was beside himself when the trade happened.

"Our owner [Richard Burke] called me when we were on the road and told me there has been some rumors about you getting traded, but don't worry about it, just play the game and you're going to be a big part of our future down in Phoenix," Selanne said, referencing the Jets' impending relocation to Arizona. "They told me not to worry about it and 10 days later I was gone."

The trade five years later from the Ducks to the San Jose Sharks was even tougher to take because Selanne was now married for nearly five years and had three children. He also was told by Pierre Gauthier, the Ducks GM at the time, that he likely wasn't going to be traded.

"He asked me to his office and said he has been trying to see what he could get for me, but there is nothing close so nothing would happen now," Selanne said. "A week after and I'm gone. It's weird stuff."

Selanne said he understands the business but feels for anybody, especially a player with a family, who gets traded at or close to the deadline.

"Anybody that is not in the game and who hasn't been traded, they have no idea how many things you have to deal with after you get dealt," Selanne said. "You go home and tell your wife and three kids that dad has to leave, it's not easy. Then it's tough finding a new home, new schools. It's a lot of work."

Getzlaf and Perry at ease at deadline

Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau said it best when the conversation shifted to trade-deadline talk and the recently signed contract extensions for Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry.

"We'd have a few more people around us if those guys weren't signed," Boudreau said prior to playing the Chicago Blackhawks last week.

Though everyone else might want to imagine what deadline day would have been like if Getzlaf and Perry were not signed, the parties involved prefer to live in reality because they like the feeling of relief, of not having to deal with speculation and rumors any longer.

Getzlaf signed his eight-year, $66 million extension March 8; Perry followed 10 days later with his eight-year, $69 million extension.

"You want to say that it wasn't bothering you and it wasn't on your mind, but obviously when you're getting questions of 'Are you going to sign, are you getting traded,' it weighs on your mind," Perry told NHL.com. "To not think about getting that phone call, it definitely helps."

Hossa knew and still it felt strange

Marian Hossa woke up in a Montreal hotel room on Feb. 26, 2008 and was told to stay there, to not go with the Atlanta Thrashers to Bell Centre.

Hossa already knew in the days leading up to the deadline that year that he was going to be traded, but that did little to change how it felt once he got the phone call from Don Waddell, the Atlanta GM at the time, that he was heading to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

"I knew when there wasn't a decision made coming into the last day that I could wake up on a different team," Hossa told NHL.com. "In the morning you have a different feeling, different ideas running through your head like, 'What will happen? Who will I play with?' You get all of those types of feelings."

Hossa didn't have a no-trade clause so he didn't have control of the process, but he said he knew the Penguins were on a short list of teams in the mix.

"You don't know where, but as soon as the phone rang I knew they made the decision and I knew it would be one of those options," Hossa said. "It could have been a surprise, but mostly it was just a few teams and I knew it would be one of them."

By the way, the other player to go with Hossa to Pittsburgh was Pascal Dupuis. Entering Tuesday night he had scored 91 goals for the Penguins.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

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