Imagine that. According to Stacy McAlpine, the agent for Dany Heatley, Tuesday's blockbuster trade that saw his star client go to Ottawa for the amazing Marian Hossa was the product of weeks of discussion.
Somehow, in this era of rampant rumoring and psychotic cyber-Pelles who tease the die-hards with seventh-hand information, the news that one of our game's potential superstars was available in a trade for weeks never got out.
Everyone involved should be very proud, including the NHL - which has taken its fair share of shots, but had a great day yesterday.
To recap: after a car crash in the fall of 2003 that resulted in the death of his close friend and Thrashers teammate Dan Snyder, Heatley a few weeks ago requested a trade because he needed a "change of environment." This had to be tough for the Thrashers, who have been building around young studs like Heatley and Ilya Kovachuk and goalie Kari Lehtonen.
To their everlasting credit, they did the right thing. Perhaps as a reward from the hockey and other gods for their class and big-heartedness, they found a partner needing cap relief and acquired Hossa and a much-needed veteran dman in Greg de Vries. The Thrashers may have traded a franchise player, but it's very possible they became a better team for at least the next three years.
So bravo, Don Waddell and the rest of the Thrashers staff. Same to John Muckler and the Senators organization, for staying mum despite the swarming Garrioches and Panzeris in hockey-loving Ottawa. To any of the GMs that Waddell approached, our eternal respect for keeping it in-house. The professionalism of McAlpine and all the other agents involved in the transaction should be heralded, too.
(Come to think of it, we should also acknowledge the press. I know how these things work. It's rare to pull off a mega-deal like this without one reporter hearing about it until the day it's done. So if anyone out there in the hockey media knew about it and agreed to stay quiet for the sake of Dany Heatley and everyone else involved, our hats are off to you.)
The finishing touch was a lovely statement that Heatley released to the fans of Atlanta. In part, it said:
"I feel fortunate to have come into the NHL with Atlanta and will always be proud to say I was a Thrasher. The Thrashers have acquired a world-class player in Marian Hossa. All in all, this is a win-win situation for everyone and I wish the best of luck to the Thrashers. I appreciate the support the organization has given me over the years and I'd like to thank them for honoring my request."
It's a beautiful day when a bunch of professionals get together and get it right for the good of the game, two franchises and a young man who's been through a lot. It was the NHL's best day in a long time.
During the course of the season, Islanders VP/Communications Chris Botta will write mercifully-short commentaries on the media and business of the NHL and the Islanders.