The Rivers Edge
The trade deadline can be very difficult on General Managers, players and fans. For the players who don’t wish to be moved it is a time of uncertainty and stress and for the players hoping to be moved, there is a certain level of excitement.
Any way you slice it it’s still a pretty nail biting time. I remember playing in Detroit in 2006 and even though we were having a great year as a team, things were average at best for me personally.
A new Head coach was hired at the start of the season and I was a leftover from the previous coaching regime. Still to this day I don’t really know if I wanted to be traded or not, but I knew that I wanted to play more than I was, especially if I wanted to earn myself another NHL contract.
So when the trade deadline rolled around, I was definitely paying attention to what was going on. Deadline day was a little different as we were playing a home game that night and I had heard that we would be doing very little if anything at the deadline. I remember getting home from the pre-game skate and wondering what exactly might happen that day and if I was about to experience a very life changing moment.
At the time we had 3 children, my 5 year old was in afternoon kindergarten and my twin boys were having a nap. The deadline was 3pm eastern standard time and at 1:30 I remember thinking that there was no way anything was going to happen, little did I know that the adventure was just beginning!
The phone rang around 2:30 and I remember looking at my wife and saying “here we go” she looked at the caller ID and it had our GM’s number on it, I think we were both quietly panicking. I answered the phone and was informed that against their better judgment and per my request I had been moved to the Phoenix coyotes!! The phone call was fairly quick as call waiting was beeping with my new GM on the other line. I was informed that not only was I traded but that they wanted me to play that night at 7:00 in Columbus.
After informing my wife of everything and both of us being in a slight state of shock, I packed quicker than I ever had before. Let me just say that packing for the next 2 months in about 20 minutes is quite difficult. I remember talking to our equipment manager trying to figure out where he was going to meet me in order for me to have all my gear. At the same as I was packing my wife was waking up our 2 year old twins and making arrangements to pick up our daughter at school so that we could have one last drive together to the airport.
Our house was located in Birmingham MI. which is about 40-45 min. away from the airport on a day without traffic….this was around 4 o’clock (can u say traffic?). We picked up my daughter who was completely confused as to what was going on and had started crying as was my wife, so the twins not to be left out decided to join in on the crying. It was an emotional nightmare.
At the same time as all of this is going on my cell phone rings…..it’s TSN, they obviously had been notified of the deal and wanted to do an interview live on TV in Canada. I did my best to drive, answer questions, and comfort my family at the same time. I think they could sense that I was all over the place and that the crying was getting louder so they said thank you and wished me luck. Now everybody back home who was watching TSN are now trying to call me and talk about what was going on (what a nightmare).
We finally reached the airport and found Frosty our assistant equipment manager who had all my gear and a dozen sticks. We loaded it all in the back of my truck, hugged it out and then I motored over to departures to make sure I didn’t miss my flight. When we arrived at the terminal I had all of about 2 minutes to say goodbye to my family and I had no idea when I would see them next. I successfully made it onto my flight but I knew there was no way I was going to make it to the arena in time for the game. When the plane landed I was greeted at the baggage claim by the head of team security who just happened to be a former police officer and had somehow arranged to have me rushed to the rink with a police escort. There were 3 cars, all with their lights flashing and a few sirens to warn people to get out of the way.
The police car ahead of us was blocking intersections, then there was the one I was riding in, and the one behind us that would become the lead car after every intersection. It was the first and only time that I would get this kind of treatment. It might have had something to do with the fact that Wayne Gretzky was the head coach.
When I got to the rink the game had already started and the equipment manager was trying to sew my name on the back of a jersey while his assistant was trying to get me pants, a helmet, and gloves. There was a TV timeout and the assistant coach, who had been my assistant coach the year before in Detroit, came back to the room and asked if I was ready to go? I held up my coffee while laughing and told him that I was almost finished with my “stretch.” He told me to hurry up as I would make my debut right after the next TV timeout.
I quickly finished getting dressed and made my way to the bench during the timeout. When I got there both coaches told me to get on the ice and skate around a bit to warm up. I was coming to the bench when I was told to get out there and line up for the faceoff.
Phoenix had a young team and I only knew about 4 guys so I was literally meeting my teammates as I played my first shift. Anyway, long story short, I had a pretty good game and we went on to win the game. Following the game we went right to the airport as we were flying back to Phoenix which was about a 4 hour flight. During the flight I was able to meet all of my new teammates as well as the entire coaching staff and trainers.
The plane touched down at about 3am in phoenix and it was another 45 min. before I would get to my hotel. I remember finally laying down in the bed, watching a little TV, and going to sleep thinking, WHAT JUST HAPPENED TODAY?
This was my personal experience with the trade deadline so please enjoy deadline day, but I caution you when thinking it’s only a small transaction and no big deal. I know for one hockey player, a wife, and three small children……it was a huge deal.
follow Jami Rivers on twitter @jamierivers08
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