Voorhees, NJ – In Philadelphia it occurs just as often as Christmas, Easter, St. Patrick's Day and the Fourth of July.
While the local and national media, along with non-credible anonymous bloggers pontificate what may happen before the NHL's March 9 trading deadline, the rumors have little effect inside the locker room as the Flyers prepare for the final 20 games of the regular season.
"I've never, in 15 years, had someone say to me that so-and-so is going to get traded for so-and-so and had it ever actually come true," said Derian Hatcher. "The players that have been through it know that if you hear something it's not going to be true. That's a pretty sound rule."
Coming up with a trade rumor doesn't take a whole lot of brains or effort. Anyone can go through the rosters of teams that are destined to miss the playoffs and find effective players that either fit in a certain other team's salary range or are going to become unrestricted free agents in the summer.
Essentially, trade rumors just boil down to common sense, along with what are usually false claims of "inside sources." It is laughable to think that someone such as Flyers General Manager Bob Clarke is on the phone relaying his thoughts on trades just to see what the public's reaction to a deal may be.
"I haven't heard too much conversation in the locker room about the rumors, and I haven't sensed any nervousness about the trading deadline," said Sami Kapanen. "I think everybody is focused on getting back on the right track and winning games. The deadline is not an issue for us right now."
While it is easier for players such as Hatcher and Kapanen to comment on the trading deadline, as they have been through it many times before, it may be harder for the younger players to deal with hearing their names in these unsubstantiated claims.
"For the young guys I'm sure it's an uneasy feeling right now. You read in the paper, R.J. [Umberger's] name comes up and [Randy] Jones, but you can't worry about that," said Robert Esche. "If something like that does happen, you have to look at it as there's a team out there that wanted you more. That's the way I looked at it when I came here, that the Flyers wanted me more than the Coyotes. You never know what they're going to do, and it's so tough to speculate and analyze that sort of thing."
Esche has also been a part of trade rumors in the past, including some silly rumors this season, and it clearly doesn't faze him.
"My name has been thrown in every year and with every team I've been with," he said. "I don't think it's a distraction. We only have a couple more days anyway. Especially in Philly, they have made trades throughout every season."NHL's Best in Town Wednesday
The Carolina Hurricanes, currently leading the NHL with 90 points, will make their second and final visit to the Wachovia Center this season on Wednesday night (7:00 p.m., CSN, WPHT 1210 AM). Philadelphia is 1-1-1 in three games against Carolina this season, including a 4-3 shootout loss in the last matchup on January 17 in Philadelphia.
Carolina suffered a major setback, however, when Erik Cole was lost for at least the remainder of the regular season with a compression fracture in a vertebra in his neck caused when Pittsburgh's Brooks Orpik drove him headfirst into the boards last Saturday night. Cole was Carolina's second leading goal scorer with 30.
"When you lose one of your best players, and especially him who was on a hot streak the last couple of weeks, that's a tough loss for them," said Simon Gagne. "At the same time, hopefully it's not going to be that bad. You never like to see a guy get hurt and go down like that."
"He's a good player, there's no question about it. He was one of the top two or three players on their team," said Hatcher. "Anytime you're missing a guy like that it's going to hurt you."
The Flyers will be looking to build on their 5-4 shootout victory over Montreal on Monday night. Philadelphia has one more home game remaining after Wednesday, on Saturday against Buffalo, before beginning a four-game road trip.
"Every single one of the guys on the team is looking at it like, one game against Carolina, beating them, can really turn things around for us and give us confidence," said Esche. "Carolina is playing well and it's obviously not going to be an easy task, but we're all focused on moving ahead and getting two points."
Antero Niittymaki will get the start in net in what will be the team's annual Fan Appreciation Day game.