March 1, 2010
NHLers deal with the dealsTrades are part of sports and players have to cope sometimes
By TERRY KOSHAN, QMI Agency
Wayne Primeau has been traded so often he could pack his bags in his sleep.
Six times, in fact, Primeau has received the call to tell him that his services no longer are required here, but there’s a National Hockey League team in City X that wants you now.
“Some of the trades I have been involved in ... I have been traded at night when my kids are sleeping, and I had to leave early in the morning, and they are wondering where their dad is,” Primeau, a father of three, said after the Maple Leafs practised on Monday at the MasterCard Centre.
“My wife has to tell them, and I don’t see them for another two months. It’s never easy, especially when you have a family. That’s the difficult part, but pro hockey players know that it could happen and that it comes with the territory.”
Primeau, Alexei Ponikarovsky, Tomas Kaberle, Garnet Exelby, Lee Stempniak and Jeff Finger are Leafs who could find themselves on the move before the NHL trade deadline strikes on Wednesday at 3 p.m. EST. Leafs general manager Brian Burke and his right-hand man, David Nonis, are intent on continuing to reshape the Toronto roster, which underwent a small facelift at the end of January when a raft of players were moved out to clear space for Dion Phaneuf, Jean-Sebastien Giguere and Fredrik Sjostrom.
There are offers on the table for players such as Ponikarovsky, but Burke and Co. won’t move unless those offers improve. That should occur, though, as teams get antsy with each minute that goes by. Rumours that have Ponikarovsky going to the Pittsburgh Penguins, among other teams, won’t go away.
Giguere was lucky, given that he was able to hook up with his family for the Olympic break just a few weeks after the Leafs acquired him from the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for Vesa Toskala and Jason Blake. Giguere fully is aware that some of the teammates he has been getting to know probably will be dealt.
“Guys are always worried about getting traded, especially on a losing team where you know they might start from scratch,” Giguere said. “It’s not a fun feeling, and I am sure that the guys with families are probably not sleeping well right now.
“Some of the guys’ kids go to school, and it’s a big change in their lives. In that sense, it is hard, but we are making good money and it’s part of our jobs. You accept it and move on.”
It’s possible that the biggest name available for trade — Ilya Kovalchuk, who became a New Jersey Devil courtesy of the Atlanta Thrashers a couple of weeks ago — has been moved. A few swaps went down on Monday, with defenceman Jordan Leopold going to the Pittsburgh Penguins from the Florida Panthers for a second-round pick and the Nashville Predators receiving defenceman Denis Grebeshkov from the Edmonton Oilers for the same price.
Primeau knows he would be a depth player on any Stanley Cup hopeful for the playoff drive. At 33, though, he just wants to provide veteran leadership for his hometown Leafs.
Primeau has been traded to Tampa Bay from Buffalo, to Pittsburgh from Tampa Bay, to San Jose from Pittsburgh, to Boston from San Jose, to Calgary from Boston and to Toronto from Calgary. Only the Flames/Leafs switch happened during the off-season.
“Let the time go by, and hopefully it passes and I am still a Leaf,” Primeau said. “Maybe there is the opportunity to go to a team that wins, but ultimately I would love to stay here and see the young guys develop and try to be a role model for the work they do.
“It’s only natural to have butterflies ... but there is nothing I can do about it.”