CALGARY - It was trade-deadline day in 2000 and Brendan Morrison was enjoying lunch in New York with his brother-in-law Daryl Reaugh.
While they were dining, Reaugh, the colour commentator for the Dallas Stars broadcasts, got a call.
“He was on the phone with a radio station in Canada and they were asking him about certain trades,” Morrison recalled. “Just before he was going to hang up, he asked about any other rumours or things happening, and they said ‘Well, we just had something come across the wire that (Alexander) Mogilny got traded to Vancouver for Morrison and (Denis) Pederson.’ He said, ‘I’m sitting with Brendan right now. I’ll let him know.’
“He hangs up and said, ‘Apparently you just got traded.’ I hadn’t heard anything. I actually found out an hour after the deadline from the Devils it went through.”
Morrison was expecting a deal to come down, and now has a trade-deadline day tale to tell.
He fully expects many more players to be in the same boat when the deadline comes Monday afternoon.
“It’s a day everybody’s interested in, but this year it seems we’ve been talking about this day a month before it’s even come. There’s commercials on TV, and that might be going a little bit overboard,” said the Calgary Flames forward. “But everybody’s interested.
The Flames have played themselves into a position where acting GM Jay Feaster admits he doesn’t want to eliminate players from the room, as a reward for pulling from 14th place in the Western Conference in mid-January to a spot in the playoff picture.
The players are thankful.
“It means they have faith in us. We’re one of the hottest teams right now and everyone believes in us,” said left winger Curtis Glencross.
“With the way things are going right now, the chemistry in the room and the way things are and the way we’re all feeling, I don’t think we’ll be much of a seller. We’re getting production from every line, everybody’s getting utilized and that’s what you want from a hockey club.
“But you can’t even think about it. We can’t worry about the deadline or what’s going to happen. We’ve just got to win hockey games.”
The Flames have two more games before the deadline, Friday at home against San Jose and the St. Louis Blues come calling Sunday.
On deadline day, they’ll head to St. Louis for the second half of a home-and-home series.
Between now and then, the quest is to let the off-ice aspects play out, and concentrate solely on the quest to earn a playoff spot.
“I’ve been through a lot of them and rumoured in a lot of them. A lot of years in Edmonton, when we were struggling to make the playoffs, there would be rumours,” said defenceman Steve Staios, who the Flames acquired at last year’s deadline. “You learn to deal with it. You see the situation and a lot of times it’s not surprising to guys.
“When I was traded, it didn’t surprise me because of the situation the Oilers were in and the direction they were going with it, I knew there was a handful of guys probably going to get moved.”
A couple of months ago, expectations were the Flames would be looking to deal away some or all of their pending unrestricted free agents, which includes Morrison, Glencross, Staios, Anton Babchuk and Alex Tanguay.
Of course, a new contract would change that.
“Not even thinking about it right now,” Glencross said. “Our goal is to make the playoffs. Contracts are between the agents and the owners and the team. There’s nothing I can do right now and if I sat and thought about it, that would drive you nuts.
“That sorts itself out.”