The trade deadline is Feb. 26, and there are plenty of rumors flying around as to where certain players may end up by the 3 p.m. ET halt to trading. Media and fans will surely create a buzz until then, but for the players, the days leading into the trade deadline and the actual day itself can be nerve-wracking, shocking and, of course, can drastically alter their careers and lives.
Boston Bruins defensemen Andrew Ference and Dennis Wideman were both traded last season, Ference 17 days prior to the deadline and Wideman on deadline day. For Wideman, this was the first time he had been dealt, while Ference had gone through the experience once before when he was traded from his first team, the Pittsburgh Penguins, to the Calgary Flames in 2003.
Each player’s lives were affected differently but they both still went through the initial shock that a trade brings to the players involved.
“I think no matter what, even if your name has been mentioned in rumors or you hear something through the grapevine, you’re always going to experience that initial shock,” Ference said.
Wideman, 24, recalled last season’s trade that saw the Blues send him to Boston in exchange for forward Brad Boyes, a deal that just got in before the 3 p.m. deadline and was announced about 15 minutes or so after.
“When you get traded right at the deadline like that it’s tough and obviously being the first time, it was a new experience so it was hard at first,” Wideman said.
“I was actually asleep when it happened and I woke up from my pre-game nap to like 15 phone messages and I was like; ‘Oh boy, something’s up.’ Then I found out it was me who had been dealt and it was hard at first. You really don’t know how to react.”
Ference, 28, came to Boston in a deal that saw him and forward Chuck Kobasew traded by the Flames to the Bruins for forward Wayne Primeau and defenseman Brad Stuart. For Ference, who unlike the single Wideman, is married with two young children, the timing couldn’t have been worse. Because of that, the shock effect was greater than the first time he was dealt.
“I had obviously been through it before, but it was a different scenario all together because when I was traded to Calgary,” he said. “Things really weren’t that good in Pittsburgh and a fresh start was probably what I needed.
“The Penguins were going through rough times and they were trading away everyone, (Alexei) Kovalev right around when I was dealt, and (Jaromir) Jagr had left the season before, so I was almost happy to get out of there. It was a new opportunity and I was close to home again so it was really exciting.”
The trade from Calgary to Boston, however, couldn’t have been more opposite for Ference.
“From Calgary to Boston, was more shock,” Ference admitted. “We had just signed a long-term deal and it was a really good set-up. It just kind of happened out of the blue and there was no real warning. So it was hard. I had my family set up there, and now all of sudden I’m gone, away from home for the next two months and my wife’s left home dealing with bills and the kids.”
Another result of a trade that players must deal with is adapting to your new team and the atmosphere around the team. For Ference, he was coming from a team in playoff contention in the West to team that was fading out of the race in the East.
“Here I am on a team that was really in playoff contention, and now I’m all of a sudden on a team clawing their way to barely be in the race, and of course we didn’t make it,” Ference said.
Traded players must also do their best to become part of the dressing room, and luckily for Ference he was dealt to Boston with another player and had a previous connection to captain Zdeno Chara.
“It’s definitely hard coming into a new dressing room, fitting in or getting used to the feel of the dressing room, so I was lucky to come here with Chuck and known ‘Z,’” Ference said.
Wideman agreed that acclimating to a new group of teammates was one of the biggest hurdles.
“I was in my second year, and had gone through that in my rookie season, so now I had to do it again, but these guys here in Boston were and have been great,” he said.
“It’s definitely hard coming into a new dressing room, fitting in or getting used to the feel of the dressing room, so I was lucky to come here with Chuck and known ‘Z’ (Zdeno Chara)” - Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference
For Wideman, his trade experience has turned out to be similar to Ference’s first time. While Wideman had found a place in the dressing room in St. Louis, he was struggling to improve his defensive game on the ice. An offensive-minded player, Wideman had a habit of taking too many risks. But after being a healthy scratch for that problem in the first game of this season, he has improved his overall game and found a spot in the top four pairings on the Boston blue line. He has also become a favorite in the dressing room as well.
“I think the biggest thing to happen to me from the trade was that my overall game has improved and I’m a part of this team,” he said. “I love playing here with this group of guys and I love Boston, so I hope I don’t have to go through that for a while.”
Ference has also become a key part of the chemistry on the blue line and a leader in the dressing room. Despite the fact that his heart will always be in Western Canada, he has grown to love Boston as well and is hoping to remain in Beantown for at least the two seasons remaining on his current contract.
“You can’t really worry about getting traded or you’ll drive yourself nuts,” Ference said. “But yeah, I like the situation here, this is a great bunch of guys and the city is awesome, so I’m hoping I don’t have to go through it again for at least the next two years.”
Shootout Summary -- There were three shootouts in the Northeast Division this past week and they all came Tuesday night. The highlight of the night was the Canadiens’ historic 6-5 shootout win over the Rangers at the Bell Centre. Montreal found itself down 5-0 to New York halfway through the second period, but didn’t give up. Michael Ryder struck for two second-period goals to jumpstart the greatest comeback in the history of this storied franchise. After beating Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist with three third-period goals to tie the game at 5-5 and send it to overtime, captain Saku Koivu finished the rally with the lone goal of the shootout.
The Bruins were able to stave off a late comeback by the Hurricanes and win 3-2 in the shootout. Carolina scored twice in the final 1:03 of regulation to erase a two-goal deficit. But Bruins forward Phil Kessel and rookie forward David Krecji scored twice in the shootout and the Bruins held on for the win.
The Senators beat the Flyers, 3-2, in a shootout. Antoine Vermette and Jason Spezza got the shootout goals for Ottawa. Kimmo Timonen beat Ray Emery for the lone Flyers’ goal.
Who’s hot? -- The Canadiens are tied with Ottawa for the most points in the Eastern Conference. One of the reasons for Montreal’s recent success is that they are getting offense throughout the lineup. Forward Alex Kovalev continues to have a monster season and has 61 points with four goals and three assists in his last four games. Forward Andrei Kostitsyn has one goal and four assists in that same span, and defenseman Andrei Markov has six assists in his last four games.
With a three-point night in the comeback win over New York, Michael Ryder is finally starting to break out with four points in his last two games. Saku Koivu also has been chipping in with two goals and two assists in his last four games. With the exception of a bad outing against the Rangers on Tuesday, where he let in three goals and was pulled in favor of Cristobal Huet, Carey Price has been sensational over the past week, going 3-0 with a 2.15 goals-against average and a .941 save percentage.
Toronto forward Darcy Tucker has three goals and an assist in his last four games, and Leafs defenseman Tomas Kaberle has four assists in that same span. Goaltender Vesa Toskala was 2-2 with a 2.24 goals-against average and a .912 save percentage.
Bruins center Marc Savard has a goal and three assists in three games. Goaltender Tim Thomas is 2-0-1 in his last three games with a 2.23 goals-against average and a .933 save percentage.
Black and Blue
Boston -- Center Patrice Bergeron is still on injured reserve as he battles post-concussion syndrome. Defenseman Andrew Alberts also remains on injured reserve with a neck injury, but has been practicing with the team and working out. Goaltender Manny Fernandez is attempting a late-season comeback from what was originally thought to be season-ending knee surgery. Fernandez, still on injured reserve, has been working out and will try to skate next week. Forward Peter Schaefer is day-to-day with a lacerated shin.
Buffalo -- Forward Maxim Afinogenov is still on injured reserve with a groin injury, and forward Drew Stafford is day-to-day with a sprained right ankle.
Ottawa -- Forward Cody Bass is day-to-day with an ankle injury.
Toronto -- Forwards Mark Bell (broken orbital bone), John Pohl (sprained ankle), and Darryl Boyce (dislocated shoulder), all remain on inured reserve.
The Week Ahead -- The Sabres host the Lightning tonight. On Thursday, the Sabres battle the arch-rival Maple Leafs, the Canadiens host the Penguins, the Senators play the Blue Jackets and the Bruins are at Florida.
The Senators are in Pittsburgh for a 3 p.m. matinee Saturday and the first game of a tripleheader on CBC’s Hockey Night In Canada. Also Saturday, the Sabres host the Rangers, the Leafs host the Thrashers, the Blue Jackets are in Montreal and the Bruins are in Tampa Bay.
On Monday, Buffalo welcomes the Flyers, and the Leafs and Senators hook up in Ottawa.
Two teams will be in action following the trade deadline on Monday as the Bruins host the Senators and the Thrashers are in Montreal.