Rumours buzz in players' heads

ROBIN BROWNLEE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:29 AM ET

PHOENIX -- "Hey, what are you hearing?"

While the majority of NHL trade rumours are nothing more than guesswork and unsubstantiated speculation, it can be difficult for players to hear the buzz and not wonder what's going on.

So it goes these days for the Edmonton Oilers, who keep reading in the morning press clippings that GM Kevin Lowe, who just shook things up by acquiring Jaroslav Spacek and Dick Tarnstrom, isn't finished making deals yet because he's still looking for a goaltender.

That much is true. The questions then become, who might be put on the block to make it happen and when does a deal get done?

"There's been a lot of rumours about our team trying to acquire different players," said Ethan Moreau, who has had his named linked to trade talk with the Buffalo Sabres and a deal for Martin Biron.

"With some of the things we're trying to get, you're going to lose roster players, it's inevitable, so it definitely crosses your mind. Personally, you don't want to go. Everybody knows how close our team is."

Rumours about who may be going where are a part of the gig in the NHL, and they are a distraction that'll intensify as the March 9 trading deadline approaches and teams divides into camps as buyers and sellers.

While players often profess to shrug off such talk, that's easier said than done.

"I don't think about it too much to be honest with you, but everybody is different," Moreau said. "Some guys get a little bit too consumed by it and it affects them. Not just their play but their everyday life.

"Whenever we lose one of our teammates, it makes an impact. We're all good friends, so it resonates pretty deeply into your life. There's no team closer than ours."

The Oilers have talked to the Sabres about Biron, although not for a week or so. You can bet that if GM Darcy Regier does decide to move Biron, the Oilers will be one of the teams that gets a call.

Likewise, Montreal GM Bob Gainey has said he's looking for a defenceman capable of playing 18-22 minutes a night. That's a fact.

With Tarnstom and Spacek, the Oilers have eight blueliners. Gainey, in turn, has Jose Theodore, who, despite his struggles this season, is a stopper the Oilers would be interested in -- if he's put up for grabs. Does that mean the teams are talking? No.

"As a goaltender, it's probably a distraction," said Chris Pronger. "It can weigh on you and you can feel a bit of pressure from it.

"From a team standpoint, guys have been around long enough in this business to realize trades happen. All of us have been traded at some point in our career."

While many rumours tossed out are laughable and can be discounted out-of-hand, the names of Tarnstrom and Spacek circulated for several days before Lowe did deals with Pittsburgh and Chicago. Where there's smoke, there is sometimes fire.

"It's part of the game," Pronger said. "Until you come to grips with it, it's going to be tough on you.

"Every year it seems you lose good friends through trades. You pick up buddies. Whether it's for monetary reasons for teams getting set for the stretch run or playoffs, there's reasons trades happen.

"We wanted to get more depth on defence. We've addressed that need, but I don't think Kevin is done."

FAMOUS FACE: When two leather-clad guys rolled up to the Oilers swank hotel, the Ritz Carleton, yesterday morning on big, noisy Harley-Davidson motorcycles, the guess was it was a couple of weekend warriors looking for directions. Like, maybe how to get to the nearest strip joint.

Not so. It was actor Colin Farrell, the A-list bad boy who has appeared in such films as Alexander, Minority Report and S.W.A.T., and a buddy.


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