MONTREAL – Every year hockey fans and players alike have a specific date circled on their calendars – the NHL trade deadline.
While millions of fans anxiously await word of the latest rumours swirling around their favourite team, the situation is understandably different for the players involved as they wait for news of their fate to be handed down.
That was the case for one of the Montreal Canadiens’ newest acquisitions, Brent Sopel, who experienced first hand the frantic pace a player’s life can suddenly take on this time of year. “My plane’s ready to takeoff. You’ve got to love this part of the job. I only had about 90 minutes to pack my bags and make it to the airport,” tweeted the Habs’ defenseman from his Twitter account @BrentSopel. “Looking forward to getting to Montreal to start the running for another Stanley Cup,” finished the recent winner of the 2009-10 Stanley Cup a few moments later.
Sopel’s journey to the Canadiens marks the third time in the course of his career that he’s been part of mid-season trade. A lot of the League’s veterans can attest to similar experiences, notably one Jeff Halpern, who’s been involved in his fair share of trades since entering into the NHL.
“I haven’t heard a lot of names of guys on our team come up. Lately, you hear talk about specific players like Chris Phillips or Stephen Weiss, and those guys must be thinking about it day in and day out,” said Halpern.
“The hockey you play on the ice is always the same, but the other big part of the game is creating friendships and relationships with the guys on your team and figuring out exactly where it is you fit in,” continued the veteran of 11 NHL seasons. “It’s tough sometimes to find that with a new team, but it’s something that guys start realizing they my have to deal with when the trade deadline rolls around.”
For the younger members of the League, the possibility of being used as currency in a team’s quest to pick up a big-name player is a constant reality.
“This is my first time experiencing this. I think the best thing is just to keep doing what I’m doing and not to think about it too much,” admitted David Desharnais
. “Obviously we’re also hockey fans ourselves. When there’s a trade, we all talk about it and try to decide which team came out on top. In the end, getting traded or not is something that’s really out of our control.” Vincent Cauchy is a writer for canadiens.com. Translated by Justin Fragapane.SEE ALSODown to the WireSopel joins Habs