Like all trades, yesterday's Lightning/Stars swap primarily involving Brad Richards and Mike Smith will need some time before any fair evaluation can truly be made. Bolts GM Jay Feaster is putting himself on the line in bringing in yet another goalie to fill the seemingly "unfillable" void left when Nikolai Khabibulin departed after capturing the Stanley Cup in 2004. Many have speculated that if this deal, as well as the next few crucial steps to improve the club between now and next season, doesn't pan out, it will be time for Feaster to pack up his things and move on. Told that Smith will, "Do great things," Feaster's own words have suggested as much.
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"<i>If he doesn't, I won't be the one picking the next goalie. Are you kidding? Talk about a dead man walking.</i>"
When I read this quote this morning, in an <a href=http://www2.tbo.com/content/2008/feb/27/sp-alls-fair-in-nhl-but-was-this-fair-value/?sports-columns>outstanding column by The Trib's Martin Fennelly</a>, I found myself eerily reminded of a similar statement by "Mad" Mike Milbury, former GM of the New York Islanders, after executing what has turned out to be one of the worst trades in the history of the National Hockey League.
"<i>If we are not better immediately ... and if we are not a playoff team in the near future then it's off with my damn head.</i>"
Milbury made these comments in June of 2000 after sending Roberto Luongo and Olli Jokinen to the Florida Panthers for Mark Parrish and Oleg Kvasha.
Luongo has since found super stardom in Vancouver and Jokinen is the captain of the Panthers and will be a hot commodity this summer if he is shopped by Florida, as expected, while Parrish (though serviceable in his Isles tenure) has moved on to the Minnesota Wild and the ever-enigmatic Kvasha ultimately made his way back to Russia.
By no means am I drawing any real, direct parallel between Feaster and Milbury as that would be incredibly insulting to Jay. In fairness, Milbury's Islander tenure was chock full of debilitating issues off the ice, though his transaction track record has stinkers up and down the list and Feaster, Freddys Modin and Norrena for Marc Denis aside, has come nowhere near Milbury territory. For what it's worth, Milbury managed to keep his job long enough to rival the Luongo/Jokinen deal with the Zdeno Chara for Alexei Yashin debacle just a year later and lingered around the franchise until just last year.
But the two quotes from these gentlemen <i><b>are </b></i>frighteningly similar and, for someone who follows both of these teams very closely, are at least a slight cause for concern.
Again, time will tell when it comes to the Brad Richards deal, so we'll wait it out and hope for the best.
Here's hoping Feaster's words weren't as prophetic as Milbury's were, nor his trade as debilitating because, if Richards and Holmqvist (now don't go flattering yourself, Johan) go on to do anything <i><b>close </b></i>to what Jokinen and Luongo have done ... well, I just don't know if I could handle that sort of thing ... <i><b>again</b></i>.
Wild @ Lightning tonight at 7:30
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