It’s 2009 NHL Trade Deadline Day – or, as it’s known in the home of Jason Spezza and his untradable $7-million annual contract, Wednesday.
By 3 p.m. ET today we’ll have a much better sense of which National Hockey League teams are loading up for a playoff run, which teams rank among the favourites to win the Stanley Cup and which teams now have no choice but to begin the thawing of Gump Worsley.
Join me beginning around 9 a.m. ET for coverage of the coverage – all the trades, all the rumours and all the excitement of watching grown men in suits stare into their BlackBerries and breathlessly announce that some Russian we’ve never heard of is moving to Columbus apparently.
Also, James Duthie’s hair will be stylishly unkempt, so there’s that.
8:00 “The following is available in TSN High Definition.” Awesome! This means there’ll be 80% greater resolution to each of Pierre McGuire’s fawning adjectives.
8:02 On TSN, host James Duthie welcomes us to Trade Centre 09 and introduces the Trade Breakers panel. Over on Sporsnet – home to Hockey Central Deadline 09 – we’re introduced to the Molson Canadian Newsbreaker Desk. For now, though, we can simplify and refer to both teams of talking heads as the Please God Let Someone Trade Someone Before We Run Out of Filler panel.
8:06 Sportsnet is promising “something you’ve never seen before!” – a “live look-in” into Leafs GM Brian Burke’s “situation room.” That’s right, sports fans – we’re mere hours away from watching an old man sitting at a desk and talking on a phone! Trade deadline fever – catch it!
8:14 While TSN reporters in Toronto and Montreal stand comfortably inside the Air Canada Centre and Bell Centre respectively, the network’s correspondent at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa is trapped outside a locked building in the freezing cold. He now knows literally what it feels like to be Martin Gerber figuratively.
8:34 TSN’s Duthie is already showing evidence of strain. “It’s 8:34 Eastern right now. [Pause.] Six hours and 26 minutes until the deadline.” Somewhere, a coyote howls.
8:47 What do we make of this? The guys on TSN are all wearing suits and ties. The guys on Sportsnet are all wearing jackets but no ties. I guess it comes down to whether you want to get your NHL trade information from the cast of Mad Men or the manager of East Side Mario’s.
8:59 One hour in and Sportsnet’s Daren Millard is looking twitchy: “We’ll get one, we’ll get two… Let’s break the seal on this thing!” These are the words of a man not keen to spend the next three hours at the mercy of more of Marty McSorley’s time-killing “analysis.”
9:09 Pierre McGuire reports: “There’s something cooking but it’s going to take some time to materialize.” Do I get royalties for that? I’m pretty sure it’s a direct quote from the night I lost my virginity.
9:17 I’m not saying the sports networks came on the air a little too early this morning but, on Sportnet, Bill Watters is now reminiscing about hockey trades that took place approximately 200 years ago. The name “Wild Bill Davidson” is uttered. Just a matter of time until Watters begins to tell the story of how he used to tie an onion to his belt, because that was the style at the time.
9:35 On Sportsnet, they’re airing an interview with Lanny McDonald, who is currently stationed with Canadian troops in Afghanistan, presumably to camouflage them all with his moustache. At first I was like: Come on! More time-killing nostalgia?? But then I was won over by the antics of the lovable family of gypsies living in Lanny’s nose hair.
9:38 Bill Watters is at it again: “Punch Imlach was a funny guy.” Translation: “Now to take the ferry cost a nickel, and in those days, nickels had pictures of bumblebees on them. Give me five bees for a quarter you’d say…”
9:43 Watters? Still talking. “…He was what we called a Group 4 free agent… that was a free agent out of Europe who, the team that owned his rights or had drafted him, had the right to match, so… Zzzzzzzz…..” <huh?> Sorry, I must have stroked off there for a moment.
9:49 Sportsnet is reporting that Ottawa is close to re-signing defenceman Filip Kuba. It’s not a trade but at least it’s not a story from Bill Watters about how the steam engine was invented by Turk Broda.
9:56 Duthie: “We want to go quickly to the Trade Breakers!” The deal? Ottawa’s Antoine Vermette to Columbus for goalie Pascal Leclaire and a second-round pick. This is bad news for a very specific demographic of Senators’ fans — horny teenaged girls who think Antoine is dreamy. Tough break, ladies. On the bright side, there’s still time for Ottawa to trade for one of the Jonas brothers (the cute one, please — not Snaggleface).
10:05 Ian Mendes reports of the Senators: “Their biggest problems have been on the back end.” Ah, so that’s why they’re known as the Kim Kardashians of the NHL.
10:18 Sportsnet unveils its revolutionary live shot of the Toronto Maple Leafs’ “situation room.” Two guys sit motionless at a table. Another guy sits motionless at a table with his hands clasped on top of his head. “Not much happening there at the moment,” the Sportsnet commentator observes. Wait — a guy just walked into the frame with a piece of paper! Maybe he’s looking to trade it for a paper clip. Let the wheeling and dealing begin, Brian Burke!
10:28 Pascal Leclaire tells TSN that he learned about his trade to the Senators while watching the live Internet feed on TSN.ca. In this regard, he and I have a lot in common. I still remember the moment I learned from the Internet that I liked naked ladies.
10:33 Brian Burke comes on TSN via telephone to say he’s now pretty much committed to trading Dominic Moore, the team’s second-line centre. He also reveals that he gauges interest in his players using a three-tiered system: “Nibbles, bites and hits.” Note of interest: Chris Brown uses the same system to determine how to treat his girlfriend.
10:47 Another look inside the Leafs’ Situation Room. One guy stares quietly into space. Another one appears to be reading a book. If I read the signs right, they’re about to trade for a comfy blanket and a warm cup of cocoa.
10:58 Help me out here: the thing that’s going on between Darren Pang and Pierre McGuire — is that sexual tension or the other kind of tension (the about-to-punch-you-in-the-face kind)?
11:04 Sportsnet fulfills its legal obligation to not go four minutes without mentioning the Maple Leafs by airing footage of a Brian Burke interview from Air Canada Centre. His hair is damp, his shirt is not fully buttoned, his tie is around his neck but not yet knotted. If I didn’t know better, I’d think he’d just finished “negotiating” with the Mrs.
11:22 Please, NHL general managers: I don’t ask you for much (other than the keys to your fancy German sports cars and robot butlers). But please please PLEASE make a trade sometime soon. Everyone’s getting pretty impatient and antsy – except for the men in the Leafs Situation Room who, to judge from their current unenthusiastic demeanour, are being forced to watch a DVD of Beaches.
11:34 On TSN, Antoine Vermette says he’ll always have “really good memories” of his time in Ottawa. We’ll have really good memories, too, Antoine — nine of them, one for each of the goals you scored in 62 games this year.
11:36 Pierre McGuire’s microphone has stopped working. In a related story, a grateful nation pauses to pay tribute to shoddy Chinese craftsmanship.
11:41 Defenceman Jordan Leopold has been traded to Calgary from Colorado from “prospects and picks.” McGuire’s analysis? “Panger says he’s a tweener. He’s not a tweener.” Uhh… what? Any way we can get the tech guys in there to tinker with McGuire’s new microphone, preferably by smashing it with a hammer?
11:47 Attention Canada: Pierre McGuire is royally pissed at you. In fact, you sicken him. Pierre just stared into the camera and shouted (and I do mean shouted): “Stop falling love with names and statistics!! Start watching games and evaluating talent!! That’s how it’s supposed to be done!!!!” I really can’t overstate how startling this moment was. There were even hand gestures of an emphatic nature. Now Pierre isn’t even letting Darren Dutchyshen finish asking questions before abruptly answering them. Darren is backing off — I think he suddenly feels like a paparazzo trying to snap a photo of Sean Penn.
12:04 p.m.The Toronto Maple Leafs have claimed Ottawa goalie Martin Gerber on waivers. As an Ottawa resident, I believe any analysis of this transaction can be boiled down to two words: Ha. Ha.
12:08 Dear Toronto: Since you appear to be interested, we have some other underperforming assets you’re welcome to take off our hands, such as Brian Lee, Jason Smith and Stephen Harper’s government.
12:18 Speaking positively of the Toronto waiver claim, various members of the TSN crew keep mentioning what a great guy Martin Gerber is — won’t cause a fuss in the dressing room, won’t whine and complain, upstanding citizen, loves his mother, capable of curing cancer with his touch, etc. No one seems to be dwelling on the minor fact that HE IS INCAPABLE OF STOPPING THE PUCKY THING FROM GOING INTO THE NETTY THING!!!
12:30 Two and a half hours to go. I haven’t been this excited since there were three hours to go.
12:38 TSN is reporting that Olli Jokinen is on his way to Calgary. They don’t have all the details yet, but it does allow several commentators to say “Olli Jokinen” over and over, which is tremendous fun. Try it.
12:40 They’re talking some more about Olli Jokinen, which is great because it allows me to confirm my earlier suspicion that Olli Jokinen is one of those guys who is always identified by his full name. Other players in the transaction are cited by surname only after initial reference, but not Olli Jokinen — or, as he’s known to his teammates, “Olli Jokinen.”
12:42 We have cross-network confirmation that Olli Jokinen’s name is, and must only be, Olli Jokinen. Marty McSorley just said on Sportsnet: “They obviously think Olli Jokinen is going to come in and play very well. Olli Jokinen is not that old. Olli Jokinen has still got a lot of years left.”
12:48 TSN commentator Keith Jones points out that even if Montreal flames out during its 100th season, the team can still look ahead to its “one-hundred-and-oneth season” next year. What I like most about TSN is their refusal to hire any analyst who’s not a oneth-rate communicator.
12:54 Images from the Leafs Situation Room are proving to be the most enjoyable element of today’s coverage. Kudos to you, Sportsnet! The latest visual features a completely abandoned Situation Room save for a single fellow who is… doodling. Ladies and gentlemen, your Toronto Maple Leafs braintrust!
1:02 For some reason I feel like having a beer. Maybe it has something to do with the 2,964 beer commercials I’ve seen today. But should I have the beer that sells itself by having a dog hump a balloon or the beer that sells itself by having a guy not hump a pretty lady because it might warm up his truckload of beer? They both make such a solid logical case for the superiority of their product.
1:19 Four guys in the Leafs Situation Room — a new record. Clearly they are ready to stop reading and doodling and take this thing to the next level – charades!
1:24 Talk on TSN turns to Florida defenceman Jay Bouwmeester. Darren Dutchyshen argues that “he’s so good.” But Pierre McGuire counters that “he’s soooo good.” Clearly, these two are never going to see eye-to-eye on the merit of Jay Bouwmeester.
1:31 Mark Recchi has been traded to Boston from Tampa Bay. In an interview on TSN, he credits his offensive renaissance this season to a regimen of “hot yoga and Pilates.” In unrelated news, Clay Aiken just suddenly took an interest in the Boston Bruins.
1:44 There’s still a little more than an hour to go, which applies both the trade deadline and how long I’m going to have to hit myself over the head with a frying pan to erase the mental image of what I just witnessed: TSN blogger Jay Onrait in his boxer shorts. (To be fair, TSN may have put his pants on waivers in order to clear up some cap room to afford more hair gel for Peter Laviolette.)
2:01 Bill Guerin is going to the Pittsburgh Penguins. In return, the New York Islanders get a conditional draft pick and an ongoing sense of futility.
2:04 Unprompted, Pierre McGuire describes Brian Burke as a “magical man” when it comes to making hockey trades. He goes on to say Burke “smells like sandalwood” and “has soft hands.”
2:16 Darren Dutchyshen, forced to help Pierre McGuire up the stairs to do their recurring segment which I believe is titled Two Men Standing a Little Too Closely Together For Some Reason, refers to Pierre as “Chunky Trunks.” Trade Centre 09: it started as an action thriller, but it’s ending as a romantic comedy.
2:19 Wow, that new Nicolas Cage movie Knowing sure looks like it’s going to be a really good film. In other news from Opposite World, Rosie O’Donnell is thin and pleasant.
2:30 We look again live into the Leafs’ Situation Room as, in the words of Daren Millard, “the guys buckle down.” Just so you can picture it in your head, the image of the guys buckling down looks a lot like “the guys kind of just sitting there.” But on the inside, I bet they’re totally doing the buckling thing.
2:37 James Duthie, reflecting on the small number of transactions completed so far, asks: “Did the economy kill Trade Centre this year?” Colonel Mustard and his blood-soaked candlestick would like you to think so, James.
2:45 The deadline is only 15 minutes away. Desperation is setting in. In exchange for a second rounder and a conditional pick, Nik Antropov goes to the New York Rangers (a strange move, in that Antropov is terrible and the Rangers already filled that need when they signed Wade Redden.)
3:00 We’ve arrived at the deadline, but hosts on both networks emphasize that trade reports may continue to roll in. Or not. Pierre reports that Bouwmeester is apparently staying in Florida. Sportsnet says Chris Neil will apparently be staying in Ottawa. And I’m reporting that the blood that’s pooled over the last seven hours will apparently be staying in my ass.
Thanks to all of you for reading along today, and for the comments and emails. And thanks to the Toronto Maple Leafs for picking up Martin Gerber. Savvy move, Situation Room.