Garth Snow stood down the hall from the visiting Pittsburgh Penguins locker room that buzzed after the biggest trade of NHL deadline day. The New York Islanders' general manager could only watch as another team made the big splash.
It was no surprise the Atlanta Thrashers traded All-Star forward Marian Hossa, but his landing spot alongside Sidney Crosby in Pittsburgh seemingly came out of nowhere.
Hossa, set for unrestricted free agency in July, went to the Penguins along with forward Pascal Dupuis just before the Tuesday's deadline. It was the headline move on what has traditionally become a seismic day in the NHL.
The Penguins paid a hefty price for Hossa, a two-time 40-goal scorer, by trading top forwards Colby Armstrong and Erik Christensen, 2007 first-round draft pick Angelo Esposito, and a future first-round draft pick.
It was one of two big moves for Pittsburgh, which also acquired hulking defenseman Hal Gill from the Toronto Maple Leafs.
A year ago, Snow and the Islanders shocked the league by prying Ryan Smyth out of Edmonton in a blockbuster deal. On Tuesday, all he had to celebrate was the fact Hossa probably wouldn't be in the lineup that night when the Penguins played the Islanders.
"Good player. I hope he misses his flight," Snow said.
In all, NHL teams made 25 trades involving 45 players in the six hours before the 3 p.m. EST deadline. The number of deals matched the league record, equaling each of the past two years, and the amount of players moved fell one short of the mark set in 2003.
The days leading up to the deadline were filled with talk of Toronto captain Mats Sundin's decision not to waive his no-trade clause even though the Maple Leafs likely won't make the Eastern Conference playoffs.
It didn't take long for the conversation to switch to those changing places. With so many teams in contention for the playoffs, there was no clear line between buyers and sellers.
"It kind of unfolded the same this year as it did last year," Snow said. "It slowly built up. You sit there with your line in the water and then all of a sudden they start biting.
"It was a little bit crazy as the day went on."
Tampa Bay started the activity Monday night by dealing Vaclav Prospal to the Philadelphia Flyers, and then moved Brad Richards to the Dallas Stars on Tuesday in the biggest trade of a forward before Hossa was sent packing.
The Stars, trying to hold off the Stanley Cup champion Anaheim Ducks atop the Pacific Division, landed the Lightning center and goalie Johan Holmqvist for backup goalie Mike Smith, forwards Jussi Jokinen and Jeff Halpern and a fourth-round pick in next year's draft.
Tampa Bay is last in the Eastern Conference and cleared salary cap space two years after signing Richards to a five-year contract that averages $7.8 million per season. Richards waived his no-trade clause even though it meant being split up from close friend and teammate Vincent Lecavalier.
"I've played on every team in my life since I was 14 with (Lecavalier). He's my best friend," Richards said. "That part was tough. But I kind of got past that mentally. That's why I'm so excited."
Not to be outdone, the San Jose Sharks made a move to keep pace in the competitive, but wide open, West.
The Sharks stepped up to nab the highest-profile defenseman available at the deadline, acquiring Brian Campbell from the Buffalo Sabres, who couldn't risk watching another unrestricted free agent leave town for nothing.
Buffalo, which said goodbye to co-captains Chris Drury and Danny Briere last summer, couldn't come to terms on a new contract with Campbell so the Sabres traded him for forward Steve Bernier and the Sharks' first-round pick in this year's draft.
"It's a shock," Campbell said. "Once it happens, it hits home pretty fast, but I'm looking forward to it now."
The Sharks began the day fifth in the West, but only five points from being out of a postseason spot. Buffalo already dropped below the cutoff in the East, and might be in trouble to get back into the playoffs after two straight appearances in the conference finals.
Snow didn't land the big prize this year, but said he nearly made a significant move. After giving up young players and picks for Smyth in 2007, and having only a first-round postseason exit to show for it following Smyth's departure for Colorado as a free agent, Snow decided not to bust up his team that is fighting for the playoffs.
The Islanders made three trades, sending troubled forward Chris Simon to the Minnesota Wild for a sixth-round pick; defenseman Marc-Andre Bergeron to Anaheim for a third-round selection; and acquiring defenseman Rob Davison from San Jose for a seventh-round choice.
One team that could give New York a run for a postseason berth is the Washington Capitals, who completed a string of deals.
The Capitals acquired goalie Cristobal Huet from the Montreal Canadiens, who appear set to turn over the No. 1 job to promising rookie Carey Price as they compete for the top seed in the East. Washington only had to surrender a second-round pick in next year's draft.
The Capitals secured six-time All-Star Sergei Fedorov from Columbus for defenseman Theo Ruth, forward Matt Cooke from the Vancouver Canucks for left wing Matt Pettinger, and left wing Alexandre Giroux from Atlanta for right wing Joe Motzko.
Fedorov, Huet and Cooke can become unrestricted free agents after the season.
"It feels good to be able to try and do this, this year, after selling off for a few years," general manager George McPhee said. "We're sending the right message to everybody."
Toronto, hamstrung not only by Sundin's no-trade clause, but those held by Darcy Tucker and Tomas Kaberle, did deal fighting forward Wade Belak and Chad Kilger to Florida for fifth- and third-round draft picks.
In other moves:
- Anaheim traded right wing Brandon Bochenski to Nashville for future considerations, and dealt right wing Brandon Segal and a seventh-round draft pick to Tampa Bay for defenseman Jay Leach.
- Carolina traded left wing Andrew Ladd to Chicago for center Tuomo Ruutu.
- Chicago sent right wing Martin Lapointe to Ottawa for a sixth-round draft choice.
- Colorado traded defenseman Karlis Skrastins and a third-round pick to Florida for defenseman Ruslan Salei.
- Columbus dealt defenseman Adam Foote to Colorado for two conditional draft picks, including a first-rounder.
- Los Angeles sent defenseman Brad Stuart to Detroit for a second- and fourth-round draft pick. The Kings also dealt goalie Jean-Sebastien Aubin to Anaheim for a seventh-round selection.
- New Jersey traded forward Cam Janssen to St. Louis for defenseman Bryce Salvador.
- The New York Rangers dealt goalie Al Montoya and Marian Hossa's brother, Marcel, to Phoenix for forwards Fredrik Sjostrom and Josh Gratton, goalie David LeNeveu, and a conditional draft choice. New York also acquired defenseman Christian Backman from St. Louis for a fourth-round draft pick.
- Tampa Bay traded forward Jan Hlavac to Nashville for a seventh-round draft choice.