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NHL.com's Online Magazine
March/2003, Vol. 1, Issue 6
  • Even Gretzky wasn't immune to wheelin' and dealin'

  • NHL.com's top 15 trades since 1980

  • GMs Pleau, Waddell take you inside the trade game

  • Wigge: Making magic at the deadline

  • Blake, Kovalev know all about living with trade rumors

  • Trades put players' wives to the test

  • A look back at 2002 trade deadline deals

  • Behind the scenes: Small transaction spurs big activity

  • Photo of the month

  • Back issues of Impact

    Brett Ashton
    Brent Ashton was one of the most-traveled NHL players of all time, traded nine times in a 14-season career.

    Family affair
    Trades put players' wives to the test
    By Alan Adams | Special to NHL.com

    Listening to Susan Ashton, you get the impression that there's a book in her somewhere.

    Given that her husband Brent was traded nine times in his 14-year NHL career, you know she could write the definitive guide for hockey wives on how to deal with having your life turned upside down thanks to a phone call.

    "It can be stressful, dealing with everything," Susan Ashton replies when it's suggested that hockey wives are the unsung heroes of the NHL's trading marketplace.

    She obviously speaks from experience.

    Her husband was the NHL's version of a Traveling Man.

    Brent Ashton started his career in Vancouver in 1979 and was sent to Winnipeg in 1981 and the Jets sent him to Colorado on the same day. He transferred to New Jersey when Colorado relocated in 1982 and the Devils traded him to Minnesota in 1983. He was dealt to Quebec in 1984 and the Nordiques dispatched him to Detroit in 1987. The Red Wings, in turn, sent him back to Winnipeg in 1988 and the Jets shipped him to Boston in 1991. The last time he was traded was in 1993 when the Bruins dealt him to Calgary.

    "Once I was traded on the road and I never made it home to get clothes," says Brent, who has unpacked his well-traveled suitcase and now calls Saskatoon (Saskatchewan) home where he runs a sports marketing company.

    "I remember going to the rink one time with Keith Acton and there were reports on the radio that someone [from his club] was going to be traded. By the time we got to the rink that someone was me."

    While Brent headed off to the friendly confines of his new NHL dressing room, where he'd find 20 or more new friends to offer support and a team providing everything for the new recruit, Susan was often left behind on her own to deal with the mechanics of the transaction.

    "There was no help," she says.

    Susan was the one who said goodbye to her friends, sold the home, found a moving company, had the mail redirected, found a new place to live, got the phone hooked up and set up shop in a new city, where she started all over again.

    She didn't have a dressing room to offer shelter from the storm.

    "It wasn't easy," says Brent about what his wife had to juggle. "As players, we have the dressing room. What do the wives have? They were left on their own."

    Of all the moves she's been through, Susan says the one time she was close to the edge emotionally was in 1991. She recalls being at the Winnipeg airport on her way to Boston with a lot on her plate.

    "I had a six-month-old, a 2-1/2-year-old and I had a dog, which was running around the airport, and I had our luggage," she says. "It was left up to me to move. But what could I do? What was the alternative?

    "But I didn't cry. We were fortunate because our kids were not in school."

    But if there's a positive to take from the life of a nomad. Susan says the life skills she learned during those years still serve her well.