Trades completed at the NHL Trade Deadline can make or break a team.
But the San Jose Sharks experienced an unforeseen event during the 1992 NHL Trade Deadline that negated a trade which, in the end, worked out for the best.
Sharks TV Color Analyst Drew Remenda recalled the afternoon of March 10, 1992, when the Sharks were in Chicago for a game against the Blackhawks.
Remenda, then an Assistant Coach for the Sharks, said at about 1 p.m. PST that day, he, Head Coach George Kingston, and Assistant Coach Bob Murdoch received a conference call from General Manager Jack Ferriera.
“Jack was really good about talking to the coaches and getting our input on trades,” said Remenda. “There were a couple trades he was working on that he told us about, which we thought were fine, but there was one in particular he was thinking about and that was trading Kelly Kisio to Chicago for Adam Creighton and a draft pick.”
Remenda said the entire coaching staff objected to the trade.
“We didn’t want the trade to happen,” said Remenda. “Kelly Kisio was a tremendous leader in a time that we needed tremendous leaders. He was one of our best players, if not our best player.”
Remenda said Kisio’s leadership was invaluable to an expansion team like the Sharks.
“We were a young, struggling team, so we needed guys like Kelly around,” said Remenda. “Everybody loved Kelly.”
Murdoch was not too thrilled about the idea of acquiring the Blackhawks’ Creighton, recalled Remenda.
“We talked on the phone to Jack and we protested about the Kisio-Creighton deal,” said Remenda. “Jack listened and said, ‘Okay, well, I think I still want to do it but I understand your concerns,’ and we went away from the phone call thinking that he was not going to make that deal.”
As the clock approached the 2 p.m. PST trade deadline, Remenda received an update from Murdoch.
“Kelly Kisio is now a Chicago Blackhawk,” Murdoch told Remenda.
“You’ve got to be kidding me! He made that deal?” Remenda said.
“Yup,” replied Murdoch.
Remenda told Murdoch he wanted to phone Kisio, but Murdoch advised Remenda to wait until Kingston and Ferriera spoke with Kisio first.
Five minutes later, Remenda received another update from Murdoch: Kisio was a San Jose Shark.
“Bob says, ‘Kelly Kisio is now a San Jose Shark because the trade didn’t go through because it didn’t get there in time,’” recalled Remenda.
Five minutes later, the phone rang again. It was Murdoch.
“Kelly Kisio is a Hawk,” Murdoch told Remenda. “Apparently the trade went through, the fax got there on time, its okay, there is no problem.”
Three minutes after that, Murdoch called yet again.
“Bob says, ‘Kelly Kisio is not a Hawk, Kelly Kisio is not a Shark, he is suspended until the league determines what they’re going to do,’” said Remenda.
“You’ve got to be kidding me?” replied Remenda. “So we’ve got no Kelly Kisio tonight? What do we do with him?”
The Sharks chose to send Kisio home to the Bay Area, where he waited until March 12 for the NHL to figure out the messy situation.
Supposedly, the fax machines at the NHL headquarters were so backed up as the deadline approached that the Kisio-Creighton deal did not reach the office before the cut-off time.
Eleven trades were completed on March 10 and 22 players were moved.
The League later determined that because the Sharks’ fax did not go through on time the deal was void and Kisio was to remain a San Jose Shark.
Remenda said Kisio took the news in stride and was ready to play for his Shark teammates when he was reinstated by the league. San Jose was set to play the New Jersey Devils at the Cow Palace and Kisio played his first game since the Trade Deadline debacle four days prior.
“So now he’s playing for a team that didn’t want him,” said Remenda. “He’s going to play for a team that wanted to trade him.”
Kisio was named the First Star of the Game after scoring a power-play goal in the second period to tie the game 2-2. Johan Garpenlov, in his first home game for San Jose after coming over in a separate trade at the deadline, scored the game-winning goal in the third period. The Sharks won 3-2.
“This was definitely my best game,” Kisio told reporters after the game. “I didn't know how to feel when I went out there and there were more nerves than I normally get. I felt a little funny, almost like I was on a new team again.”
After the game, Sharks Head Coach George Kingston commended Kisio on his professionalism and focus throughout the situation.
“Kelly was phenomenal, and it shows you what type of pro Kelly Kisio was and the type of person Kelly Kisio is,” said Remenda. “He showed that day why he was so valuable to the San Jose Sharks and why we wanted him.”
The following season, Kisio had a career year and set a then-franchise record 78 points. He also became only the second Shark to be named to the All-Star when he represented San Jose at the 1993 All-Star Game.
“You look at Kelly Kisio’s numbers as a San Jose Shark, on a young team that didn’t score many goals, the guy was absolutely amazing,” Remenda said.
Kisio played in 126 games with San Jose, accumulated 37 goals, 78 assists and 115 points. He left the Sharks and finished out his career with the Calgary Flames, playing for two seasons before retiring.
The center ended his 13-year career with 658 points (229 goals, 429 assists) in 761 games.