Kudos to Jim Rutherford for his clairvoyance.
Honest evaluation of yourself, or an entity you have a huge stake in, is a difficult thing. Most people let emotion temper true, unbiased self-examination.
The Carolina Hurricanes GM looked at his team hard; scanned the roster up and down and decided he didn’t have enough high-level climbers to reach the top of the mountain this year.
And anything less, in Rutherford’s mind, isn’t good enough.
So despite the fact his club has a very good chance to nab the third seed in the East by virtue of limping to the top of the lame Southeast Division, Rutherford jettisoned point-producer Cory Stillman along with hard-nosed, hairy defenseman Mike Commodore to Ottawa in exchange for young right winger Patrick Eaves and blueliner Joe Corvo.
Stillman, an unrestricted free agent to be, is a classic hockey mercenary; a two-time Cup champion who can come in and score for three months before moving on to the next outpost.
In short, he’s exactly the kind of player GMs of a lesser ilk would be trying acquire, rather than ship out, during this delusional time of year.
This isn’t the first time Rutherford has shown an aptitude for shrewd assessments. He knew his team was on the brink of a title in 2006 and acted accordingly by acquiring Doug Weight and Mark Recchi prior to the deadline. He knows what championship pedigree is all about and by recognizing his team doesn’t have it this year, he improved the Canes’ chances of getting back to legit contender status again, soon.
LET'S GO BUFFALO?
I have to admit, I was one of those naïve observers who thought the prospect pool in Buffalo was deep enough to absorb the loss of co-captains Daniel Briere and Chris Drury.
Right again! Nice job, me.
OK, let’s not get crazy here, but the Sabres have earned points in their last nine games and entering Wednesday night’s tilt versus Toronto, Buffalo held down the last precious post-season spot in the East.
Something about the Sabres in a favorite role never felt quite right last year; like seeing Paul Giamatti play the leading man in a Hollywood blockbuster.
Buffalo is an underdog town; the kind of place where teams are supposed to emerge from the back of the pack, scrape some rust off their belt and jam it down the throats of the big boys.
Is the Stanley Cup coming to Western New York this spring? Not likely, but I can’t shake the feeling the Sabres are going to rattle some teams before it’s all said and done.
Ryan Dixon is a writer and copy editor for The Hockey News magazine, the co-author of the book Hockey's Young Guns and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Wednesdays and his column, Top Shelf, appears every second Friday.
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