MacLean a big wheel on deal day

CRASH CAMERON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:37 AM ET

Contrary to some beliefs, the TV panellists on NHL trade day are not on the phone to their wives for the visual effect.

Who knew they may actually be talking to team officials?

Doug MacLean knows. He used to have Nick Kypreos phoning him. Wednesday won't be MacLean's first NHL trade day. Just the first in front of the cameras. Sitting, in fact, next to Kypreos.

"You hope it's their wife," the ex-coach and GM, who was hired by Sportsnet last fall, said jokingly.

Which side spends more time on the dial?

"Between fielding calls from (other) GMs, then talking to your scouts, and then the media bugging you about what's going on," said MacLean, making a clear case for the business side.

"The key guys from the network (are calling), plus your own local media. So guys like Kypreos were in my ear on a regular basis."

Now MacLean is a media guy doing the bugging.

"I'm not too sure of that yet. I don't feel totally comfortable doing that. I leave that to Nick.

"Knowing people in the business, I just hear stuff out of conversation ... I give it to Kypreos and he makes the calls!

"I think my job is more to analyze the trades, or speculate before they happen, or look at what teams need. That's more where I'm at."

MacLean is worried it's a slippery slope.

"You get into it. So I suspect I'll be doing some sniffing around, too. But I'd hate to be like you guys totally!

"I'm afraid I seem to be moving into that realm."

The juggling is tricky for GMs. It's about needs. And dollars.

"I was sort of caught in the middle when I was a GM (at Columbus) because we were a young franchise and a small-market team. We were always looking to sell some assets, to save some money -- and looking to acquire prospects."

Deals can happen on the day, MacLean said.

"Some of them are talked about two weeks before, three weeks before. You're talking and talking, you're throwing out names, you're just fishing. (Then) it gets pretty intense. But you'd be surprised how many of them happen just on the spur of the moment.

"Brian Burke phoned me, I think, about quarter-to-three," MacLean said, referring to the day's deadline. "I suspect it was because he'd lost out on a couple of deals. Burkie was in Vancouver at the time and he needed a veteran winger. I had (Geoff) Sanderson out there as he was sort of winding down his career. I traded Geoff to save $800,000, but I had to take him back in the summer on waivers. That was part of the deal," MacLean said.

"So Brian gave me a third-round pick to rent (Sanderson). I took him back in August and traded him to Phoenix the next year for (Jason) Chimera."

Then there are times when your team has an extra centre and theirs an extra d-man.

"Some days it's no more complicated than that."

- Sportsnet.ca offers a fantasy element Wednesday with "You Be the GM." Your trade might even get discussed on the air. As long as it isn't: Kovalchuk for the plug winger your team overvalued and overpaid for and the coach hates.

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Sure to push buttons is CBC's The Fifth Estate tonight. Titled "The Code: Hockey's Unwritten Law of Fighting," host (and ex-CFLer) Bob McKeown interviews Don Cherry and Georges Laraque among others, including Michael Sanderson -- father of Don Sanderson, the Ontario player who died of a head injury incurred in an on-ice fight. Repeats on Newsworld Sunday at 10 p.m. ET.

david.cameron@sunmedia.ca


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