Tuesday, March 01, 2011
Winners and Losers
The ink is barely dry on the paperwork making yesterday’s trades official, and already we have outlets proclaiming winners and losers, issuing grades, and opining on which team “won” the trading deadline.
Hold your horses, folks. Let’s think about something for a moment. Why are “buyers” at the trading deadline “buying?” It’s not to win another game or two in the last 20 regular season games (unless they are on the playoff bubble). They are doing it to fit a last piece into a Stanley Cup-winning puzzle.
I heard one commentator on the radio breathless gushing about all the moves Boston made in the days leading up to the deadline. I saw one respected blogger handing out grades. Another even proclaimed – gasp! – the Caps the winner of Deadline Day.
Given the object of the exercise, it’s a little bit…no, way too early to be issuing grades or identifying “winners” and “losers.” What looks good on paper today might not have that same appeal in a couple of months.
We touched on this yesterday when we asked if Deadline Day matters. Last year, were people gushing about the steal Chicago made in obtaining Nick Boynton from Anaheim for future considerations? And two years ago, the saga of Bill Guerin was more a tale of intrigue (the mysterious team with which the Islanders did or did not have a deal) than it was his being a player that could make a team – ultimately Pittsburgh – a winner on Deadline Day. Pittsburgh, hard as it is for Caps fans to remember, won the Cup with Guerin in tow.
Winners and losers are not made on Deadline Day. They are built long before those last pieces of the puzzle are fit in. Oh, granted, it is quite entertaining to see who will go where and to speculate on who improved their chances to win a Cup most from among their peers. Caps fans can take comfort in the fact that the team improved itself in the deals it made yesterday, filling holes and increasing the overall talent level. But it is not until after the ice shavings settle in June that we can know who “won” or “lost” yesterday and the days leading up to it. If the Stanley Cup is the standard by which one evaluates such things, the “winner” is the team that skates the Cup around the rink, not the team that gets a high grade from hockey commentators or bloggers (including this one) this morning.