We’re right in the midst of the silly season with regards to NHL trades. We’re likely to see a high rate of trades between now and the NHL trade deadline on March 1. Most of these trades will involve good teams trying to add a missing piece to the puzzle - a third line center, some depth at defense- to help them win the cup. Other teams have already given up hope on the playoffs and will look to move veteran players for draft picks or prospects. If we’re lucky, we might even get a good player for player trade that bolsters both teams’ rosters.
However, there is another type of trade. A rarer, more intriguing type of trade. When players are traded not because of what goes on on the ice, but rather because of what has happened off of it. These types of trades are rife with salacious stories (not all of which are true) and serve to remind us that real life is not like an EA game; these are real humans working at real jobs and their co-workers (teammates), management (coaches, general managers), and environment (location, fans), all affect their performances. A quick note about this list: it does not include players traded for salary cap reasons. For the purposes of this list, a player who was traded so his team could get under the cap, is considered a “hockey reason”. With that out of the way, read on and discover which celebrated players were traded for unseemly reasons.
15 Boston Trading Seguin
Tyler Seguin is one of the most offensively gifted players in the NHL. During his time in Boston, he was regarded as one of the hottest young prospects in the game. And yet, there was always something a bit off about his place with Bruins. For example, during Boston’s run to the cup in 2011, Seguin was a healthy scratch for the first half of the playoffs. On July 4, 2013, Seguin was involved in a trade with Dallas that saw Loui Eriksson as the key player coming the other way. Eriksson is a fine player, but he never showed the promise Seguin did. And Seguin has (when healthy) put up big numbers in Dallas.
So why did the Bruins want rid of him? Bruins management thought Seguin partied too much and was immature. Seguin has since admitted he made some questionable decisions off-ice but that it never affected his performance. As to his maturity...he was only 21 at the time he was traded. What were they expecting? Seguin has excelled in Dallas and Eriksson has already left Boston, leaving the Bruins looking like impatient chumps.
14 Downie for Talbot
Given that neither Steve Downie nor Maxime Talbot play in the NHL currently, the Halloween 2013 trade that saw them traded for each other doesn’t seem of any interest at all. However, at that time, the younger Downie had gotten off to a good start of the season, scoring seven points in eleven games. Talbot, conversely, had scored two. Talbot had a Stanley Cup ring and a lot of experience, so you can see why the Avalanche wanted him for their young team. But Downie had been showing a lot of fire and promise since returning from injury.
Unfortunately, some of that fire was aimed at fellow teammate Gabriel Landeskog, as Downie walloped Landeskog with a hit in training camp, apparently in retaliation for a trip. This, coupled with Downie’s disciplinary record, convinced the Avs they didn’t want him and basically gave him away.
13 ‘The Big E’ in Quebec
Despite Eric Lindros’s impressively dominant play in the mid-1990s and his career’s premature and sad undoing by concussions, he’s never been that easy to warm to as a person. A big reason for this is the way he began his NHL career. Or rather, how he didn’t. Lindros stated before the 1991 draft that he would not play in Quebec, stating he wanted to play in a bigger market and somewhere that afforded him better sponsorship opportunities. But the Nordiques drafted him first overall, anyway. Lindros had actually done this before, refusing to play for the Sault-Saint Marie Greyhounds of the Ontario Hockey League and they traded him to Oshawa.
After a whole year, Quebec finally traded Lindros to the Flyers, and got a ton in return, including goalie Ron Hextall, defenceman Steve Duchene, forward Mike Ricci, draft picks, and a young Swedish prospect named Peter Forsberg. The trade set up a chain of deals that made the franchise successful for years to come. Only, sadly for Quebec, that franchise would relocate to Colorado, party because of the stigma that was reinforced by Lindros.
12 Ronald Corey vs. Chris Chelios
The 1990 trade that saw the Montreal Canadiens trade Norris Trophy winner Chris Chelios to Chicago for aging forward Denis Savard stands out to Habs fans as one of the worst in franchise history, in the same conversation as some of GM Rejean Houle’s big blunders. The GM in 1990 was Serge Savard, but the key player here was Habs President Ronald Corey. Corey represented the Habs’ owner, Molson Brewery, and was very image conscious. Chelios was a bit of a bon-vivant in his younger days and was always up for a party. But this never seemed to bleed into his hockey, where he was dependable and excellent. This would have been fine in the old days, but as corporatism and advertising was becoming more ingrained in the game, men like Ronald Corey would hold more sway. Essentially, Corey felt Chelios’s behavior could be bad news for Molson’s image and he order Serge Savard to ship him out.
11 The Brendan Shanahan Blues
Brendan Shanahan has worn many hats. Half of Fame forward, NHL Director of Player Safety, and now President of the Toronto Maple Leafs. But before any of that, he was a highly effective power forward playing for the St. Louis Blues. That was until July 27, 1995, when he was traded to the Hartford Whalers. Why was the two-time 50-goal scorer traded away? Well, the short answer, is that he and head coach Mike Keenan didn’t get along. Why didn’t they get along? Well, there could be a lot of reasons. For starters, one of them was Mike Keenan, who as we will see, is not an easy man with whom to get along.
Most of the other reasons are typical stuff; Keenan saw Shanahan as ill-disciplined and lacking in professionalism. However, it should be noted, that one rumor that surrounds this trade that refuses to dissipate insists that Shanahan was carrying on an affair with the wife of Blues teammate Craig Janney. Though it should be stressed, that this rumor has never been substantiated. Oh, and who was Shanahan traded for? Chris Pronger.
10 “How Do You Like Edmonton, Mrs. Pronger?”
After arriving in St, Louis, Chris Pronger would go on to have 10 successful years there, where he’d win the Norris and Hart trophies in 2000 and become their captain. However, the Blues traded Pronger to Edmonton for Eric Brewer in 2005 to free up cap space. Pronger helped to lead the Oilers to the Stanley Cup Final that year and the Edmonton faithful loved their new dominant defenceman. Until just a few days after the Stanley Cup final when Pronger requested a trade.
It quickly became reported that Pronger’s motivation was that his wife disliked living in Edmonton, though Pronger himself had little to say on the subject. Pronger was traded to Anaheim for Joffrey Lupul, Ladislav Smid, and a number of draft picks (one of which became Jordan Eberle). Pronger (and his wife) became vilified in Edmonton, with the taste of the trade becoming all the more bitter when Pronger won the cup with Anaheim the very next year. But was all that flack really fair? Honestly, where would you rather live: Sunny Southern California or Edmonton, Alberta?
9 The Wet Tracksuit of Infamy
Evander Kane is a good hockey player, but Evander Kane is not a very good human being. At least, he seems to be capable of doing some bad things. During his time in Winnipeg, Kane didn’t get on too well with teammates or his coach, Paul Maurice. In April 2014, Kane was accused of assault in Vancouver and sued for damages. This was the most prominent in a string of problems. Kane was a healthy scratch for several games, with Maurice suggesting Kane should, “just come to the rink” if he wants to play. One day when Kane did show up, he was in a tracksuit, and not the customary proper suit. His teammates, reportedly led by Dustin Byfuglien, proceeded to hang the tracksuit up in the shower, with the water on, of course.
It should come as no surprise that Kane was traded to Buffalo soon after. Unfortunately, Kane’s problems followed him. Kane was charged with assaulting women in Buffalo in June 2016. The charges were dropped, on the condition of good behavior from Kane. (What is it with “Kanes” in Buffalo?)
8 Jeff and Mike’s Excellent Adventure
During the Philadelphia Flyers run to the 2010 Stanley Cup final, they were lead by the offence of Jeff Carter and the two-way play of captain Mike Richards. So when both players were traded in June 2011 -to separate teams- people were shocked. However, Richards’s and Carter’s proclivity for partying wasn’t exactly a well-kept secret. When the Flyers had traded away Joffrey Lupul in 2009, many speculated that it was an attempt to curb the drinking atmosphere in the locker room. There were also reports that head coach Peter Laviolette had instituted a “dry island” by where players would abstain from drinking for a period. Richards and Carter never volunteered.
After a cup of tea in Columbus, Carter would join Richards in L.A. and the two would win the Cup in 2012 and again in 2014. While Carter has seemingly cleaned up his act and become an elite NHL forward, Richards has struggled. He saw his ice time greatly reduced by Kings coach Darryl Sutter, was sent to the AHL, and was arrested for trying to cross the U.S.-Canada border with oxycodone without a prescription.
7 Calgary Trading Phaneuf
Are there two less likeable figures in hockey than Mike Keenan and Dion Phaneuf? Probably. But not many. I can’t claim to know either personally; perhaps they’re charming gentlemen behind closed doors. But to just look at them and listen to them, you’re pretty much 90% positive they’re jerks. And these two jerks did not get along in Calgary. Coach Keenan was frustrated with Phaneuf’s inability or refusal to play his system while Phaneuf’s behavior was nearly mutinous. In this case, the coach lost, and Keenan was fired in June 2009. But the damage to Phaneuf’s reputation was done and the Flames decided to trade him to Toronto in January 2010. The move was uncommon in that the Leafs actually looked to get the better deal for once. But despite being named team captain, Phaneuf often clashed with the media in Toronto and was eventually traded to Ottawa in 2016.
6 Subban for Weber
One of the more controversial trades of this style occurred just last summer when Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin shipped off star defenceman P.K. Subban to Nashville for Shea Weber. It’s not often you see two star players of the same position traded for each other. Subban is a bit younger than Weber and a bit more dynamic on the ice, whereas Weber is more reliable and has a harder shot. But that’s not what this deal was about.
It was about (now former) coach Michel Therrien and possibly other players (such as captain Max Pacioretty) not liking Subban. Some members of the press have reported that Subban had missed curfews on the road and had been late to team meetings, though these allegations have never been confirmed by the Canadiens organization. Not only is Subban a greatly talented player, he was a fan favorite, so this trade is definitely about more than just acquiring a different style of defenceman.
5 Blues Trading Gilmour
Few players are as beloved as Doug Gilmour has been, so for those who don’t know, it will come as a shock that in August 1988 Gilmour was sued for sexually assaulting a 14-year old girl. Gilmour’s wife Robyne, the St. Louis Blues organization (for whom he was playing), and team president Jack Quinn were also named in the $1 million lawsuit for having known or because they should have known about the abuse. Gilmour denied the allegations, but the Blues wanted to be rid of this situation fast, so they opted to trade away the man who had scored 191 points over the past two seasons. The Blues wanted him gone so bad, they were accused of not informing other teams of the lawsuit.
In the end, they basically gave Gilmour away to the Calgary Flames in a very lopsided deal. Gilmour and his wife counter-sued the accuser’s mother for defamation and libel. The case went to a grand jury who decided not to indict Gilmour on the charges. The whole ordeal had little effect on Gilmour’s performances as he helped the Flames to win the Cup that season.
4 Schneider vs. Roy
The Mathieu Schneider-Patrick Roy-Michèle Piuze (Roy’s then wife) love triangle is perhaps the most infamous rumor of a player having an affair with a teammate’s wife. The story goes that Schneider hooked up with Roy’s wife and the two hated each other and that’s why Schneider was dealt to the Islanders in April 1995, just two years after winning the cup with the Habs. Of course, these allegations have never been confirmed and there is no evidence for them. But we do know Schneider and Roy did not get along.
The two had a notorious bust-up during the intermission of a game against Philadelphia with Roy accusing Schneider of not pulling his weight. This contributed to GM Serge Savard dealing Schneider, but it was actually a big trade that also saw the Habs trade their captain Kirk Muller as well as Craig Darby in order to get Pierre Turgeon and Vladimir Malakhov. In any event, with Schneider gone, the Habs franchise goalie was happy and would stay for years to come. Right? Well…
3 Le Trade
Enter GM Rejean Houle and head coach Mario Tremblay in autumn 1995. Tremblay actually roomed with Roy during the latter’s rookie season and was not too kind to the goalie. Tremblay would mock Roy’s English, criticize him on sports radio, and the two reportedly had an altercation at a Long Island coffee shop earlier in 1995. Why would you hire a head coach that your star player detests? Because you’re president Ronald Corey and you care more about beer sales so you just appoint guys who you can control things.
Tremblay had a disastrous relationship with Roy that climaxed when he left Roy in net for nine goals in an 11-1 destruction by the Red Wings. When Roy was finally pulled, he walked right past Tremblay on the bench and told Corey, “It’s my last game in Montreal”. This forced the Habs GM into the unenviable task of trading away his star goalie. Worse still, that GM was the legendarily inept Rejean Houle. The end result? The Avalanche won the cup that season.
2 Atlanta trading Heatley
After their awful choice for their first ever draft pick (Patrik Stefan) the Atlanta Thrashers seemed to get it right the next year when they selected Dany Heatley in the first round. Heatley won the Calder Trophy and played well for the Thrashers. But everything changed on September 29, 2003, when Heatley crashed his Ferrari, injuring himself and killing his teammate Dan Snyder. Heatley pleaded guilty to second-degree vehicular homicide, driving too fast for conditions, failure to maintain a lane, and speeding and was sentenced to three years probation and had limits imposed on the type of vehicle he could drive.
Even after he returned from his injuries, Heatley never recovered his form and asked to be traded as he wanted to get away from the city of the crash. Many Atlanta fans were upset as they were very supportive of Heatley. Nevertheless, after the lockout, the Thrashers traded Heatley to Ottawa for Marian Hossa and Greg de Vries. Heatley would also demand a trade out of Ottawa at the end of his tenure there, but that was because of reduced ice time under head coach Cory Clouston.
1 The Trade
It wasn’t just the biggest sports story on August 9 1988, it was the biggest story in all of Canada (and pretty big in the U.S. too). The leader of the New Democratic Party demanded the Canadian government block the trade. Janet’s acting career was accused of being the motivation for it. Wayne was accused of betraying his country. In truth, there was really only one man to blame. Wayne Gretzky was informed by his father, a mere two hours after winning the Cup, that Oilers owner Peter Pocklington was shopping him around. Pocklington needed money. Not because the Oilers were losing money, but because Pocklington’s other business ventures were. Gretzky agreed to go to L.A. as long as Marty McSorley and Mike Krushelnyski were traded with him.
When Oilers GM Glen Sather found out, he demanded the Kings send Luc Robitaille in return, but they said no. The deal had already been orchestrated; Gretzky, McSorley, and Krushelnyski for Jimmy Carson, Martin Gelinas, three first round draft picks, and $15 million. The best player in the game traded away because the owner was a bad businessman. Oilers fans burned effigies of Pocklington outside the Northlands Coliseum. Subtle.