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PRINCIPE: Deadline Day

by Gene Principe / Edmonton Oilers
Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli discusses a trade with Rangers President Glen Sather at the 2015 NHL Draft. Photo by Getty Images

Fans love it. Players hate it.


Those six words describe what is generally the craziest day of the Hockey season. While the off-season is all about the draft and July 1, during the season there's one day that stands out above all others. It's a day unlike any other because it's the last chance to buy, sell, trade, swap, move, discard, deal a player, prospects or draft picks to help build your team for the future, the present and sometimes both at one time.

Our network, Sportsnet, hits the airwaves at 8 a.m. ET and 6 a.m. MT. When they will stop, nobody knows even though by 1 p.m. Edmonton time all the wheeling and dealing should be done on Trade Deadline Day.

After another hard-fought loss Friday night, Todd McLellan asked if he could use our TV studio to make a phone call to ‘Peter’. I'm not too off-base in guessing ‘Chiarelli’ was the last name, and a little privacy was needed to discuss a deal or a potential one. Hours later, literally overnight, came word that Anders Nilsson had been traded to St.Louis. That put an end to a bizarre day for Nilsson. He was expected to be the starter against the Ducks, but then it was announced he wasn't. Rumours throughout the day suggesting that he had been traded or would be. Yet there he was at the team meal, and on the team bus and in the dressing room and on the bench for the game. Perhaps awkward, but part of a pro's life as other people decide your future and your fate.

Well, if Anders Nilsson had a day to remember then how about Teddy Purcell? He must feel like a plane ready to land but still awaiting clearance. Seeing Teddy over the last few days, he described his situation as being in a “holding pattern.” Yes he's holding on to find out where he's eventually going to land. This all started to grow in mystery Thursday in LA. Player and coach had a good conversation outside the dressing room. Soon after, he's a healthy scratch and the speculation builds. However, there was no ending because as close as a deal may have been there was nothing official. As a result, I was seeing Purcell everywhere but on the ice. A second-straight healthy scratch came Friday night. Not playing, just waiting.

You could put Justin Schultz in the same category as waiting to find out what the future holds for him in Edmonton or elsewhere. As soon as the GM publicly stated he was a seller the phone calls, e-mail and texts must have continued to flood the phone of Peter Chiarelli. It wasn't a shock, because of Edmonton's status in the standings, but in case there was a hint of doubt that was washed away. Loud and clear, Chiarelli made it known that nearly anyone, whose name wasn't McDavid, was a candidate to get traded on February 29 or before.

It's that time of the year, where unless you have a no trade or no movement clause, be ready because your hockey address might change with one phone call. For everything a pro athlete has that so many of us desire, this is one hazard of the job I could do without. It's not a nice part of the business. However, teams are in the business of winning and doing it now or later is something that can be determined every season on Trade Deadline Day.

-Gene Principe
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