There’s a perfectly sound reason why Columbus Blue Jackets coach Ken Hitchcock didn’t comment publicly when GM Scott Howson moved captain Adam Foote at the trade deadline.
It’s because he didn’t want to say anything he’d later regret.
With that one deal, Howson cut the guts out of his team and ensured it would remain the only one in NHL history to have yet to play in a playoff game.
Prior to the deadline Tuesday, the Blue Jackets were still in the hunt. By the time the day was over, they had missed out on Brad Richards and Howson made the decision to purge the roster.
There seems to be this sentiment among GMs in the league that players who stand to become unrestricted free agents must be dealt at the deadline in order to get something for them, rather than have them walk for nothing.
But what some of them don’t seem to understand is, just because a player is a potential UFA, it doesn’t mean he can’t still be an asset.
Is there not some merit in having a player such as Foote around for a playoff drive to help teach the likes of Rick Nash, Nikolai Zherdev and Rostislav Klesla what it’s like to be in a post-season race? Is that not an asset that has value? Would that not have been invaluable to their development as NHL players?
There’s nothing wrong with Howson not wanting to cave in to Foote’s contract demands. Truth be told, $4 million a year on a two-year deal is probably a little pricey for a guy that age.
But that doesn’t mean Howson had to effectively remove his team from the playoff race by trading its captain for a draft pick who might get around to helping them by about 2012.
After the dust settled post-trade deadline Tuesday afternoon, Tampa Bay Lightning GM Jay Feaster placed a call to Les Jackson, with whom he consummated the Brad Richards deal.
Feaster called to thank Jackson for his comportment during the Richards negotiations. Potential trading partners, sensing Feaster was desperate to unload Richards’ $7.8 million salary cap hit, bombarded him with a flurry of junk in return.
Not Jackson and Stars’ co-GM Brett Hull, who made it clear from the start the Stars wanted Richards and were prepared to step up with a legitimate offer that wouldn’t embarrass the Lightning.
And that’s a big reason why the Stars got Richards and won the day on Tuesday.
Congratulations to Henri Richard, who celebrates his 18th birthday today.
The former Montreal Canadiens captain, whose 11 Stanley Cups are more than any other player in NHL history, is actually 72, but was born Feb. 29, 1936 and, as a Leap Year Baby, celebrates his actual day of birth every four years.
Ken Campbell is a senior writer for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Tuesdays and Fridays and his column, Campbell's Cuts, appears Mondays.
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