As Trade Deadline Day approached last season, Buffalo Sabres General Manager Darcy Regier asked Jason Pominville
for a list of teams he’d be willing to waive his no-trade clause for.
The GM hadn’t received any calls from opposing teams, but had to keep his options open. Pominville researched teams around the league and compiled his best options.
Giving Regier the list, Pominville didn’t believe he’d be moved. He was in the organization his entire career, playing seven seasons in Buffalo and was named team captain in 2011. The forward continued playing as if he’d remain in a Sabres sweater, thinking little of the list. Besides, the club had games on back-to-back nights and in the lockout-abbreviated season there was no time to think about much outside of the games.
Then came the NHL’s Trade Deadline Day. The Sabres had the day off and Pomiville was at home relaxing watching television. He was still leery of the chances of landing with another team after spending his entire career in Buffalo, that is, until he changed the channel to the NHL Network and saw his name appear as the top trade prospect.
“I saw that I was listed as trade bait number one,” Pominville said. “So then I thought that there might be something going on. When I saw that, I started to believe a little more that something might happen.”
He then received a text message from a friend that there were online reports saying Minnesota was going hard for the forward. Within a half hour, Pominville received a call from Regier.
“(Regier) called and said he wanted to let me know where I was going before it came out publicly,” Pominville said. “But I said, ‘I think I already know, is it Minnesota?’ And he said, ‘Yeah.’”
From that moment on, it was a whirlwind for Pominville. The Wild was skating in Los Angeles the next day and the forward was intent on joining his new team. He departed Buffalo before sunrise, flew cross-country to L.A. and arrived at Staples Center just before noon.
Walking through the tunnel underneath the arena to the visitor’s locker room to join his new team, Minnesota’s prized acquisition had both hockey bag and, a very large, suitcase in tow.
“It was a crazy few days,” Pominville said. “You get traded and (the Wild) is on the road. I didn’t know how much stuff to bring or if I’d have time to go back to Buffalo and get some more of my stuff, so I ended up packing as much as I could.”
After the first game with the Wild, Pominville’s impact was immediate. In his second game in Columbus, the winger scored a goal and an assist in the team’s 3-0 win. Before the game, his wife, Kim, and two children, Jayden and Kaylee Rose, who drove from Buffalo to Columbus to watch the game, surprised him.
After getting a quick boost from the visit from his family, Pominville continued to produce, scoring seven points (3-4=7) over the next seven games. However, in his 10th game with the team his season was derailed when the Kings’ Dustin Brown landed an elbow to Pominville’s head. For the hit, Brown was suspended for two games. But the hit would keep Pominville out of the lineup with a concussion for the next five games, including the first three games of the Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Chicago Blackhawks. In the final two games against Chicago, the winger was unable to make much of an impact.
“Physically you couldn’t really do much,” said Pominville, who also suffered from whiplash. “We did a lot of work on my neck, it was really tight and once we cleared that part out I started feeling much better.”
This season, the 30-year-old is healthy and ready to help the make the Wild a better hockey team. In training camp and preseason, he’s been on the top line with Mikko Koivu and Zach Parise.
“I’m excited for Jason, to play with him and for him to be around here,” Parise said about having Pominville for a full season. “I was really excited when we traded for him. He started off really well, and then got hurt.
“I think people forget how good of a player he is and how big of an impact he’ll have on this team.”
After the swift move and ending to last season, off the ice, Pominville and his family are settled in Minnesota, which will make life easier at the rink.
“I don’t think I could do it without them,” Pominville said. “We got here around Sept. 1 and found a place. Everyone is here and excited.
“It’s starting to feel like home.”