It’s always tough for NHL fans to see their favorite team’s star players get traded away. When you follow a team, you build an attachment towards a certain player and it just never feels the same when you see him suiting up for another team. The average fan understands that business is business and players will inevitably change teams at some point, but sometimes it hits a whole other nerve. When a player asks to be traded from his current team, there are a multitude of reasons for it. It could be that the player is fed up of a losing environment, it could be that the player is unsatisfied with his role or it could be something as simple as not wanting to live in a certain city. Whatever the reason, it hurts a fan when one of their players demands to be traded.
You can take it in different ways. Some fans will immediately bash the player and berate them for wanting to leave town. Others will blame team management for creating an unpleasant situation for the player. Sometimes, it’s strictly a business move by the player, as they feel they will thrive more in another city and in turn will get paid more.
Whatever the reason, it irks a fan when their team’s star player requests to be traded. Here are 15 NHL stars who once demanded a trade out of town. Some of these players never actually requested a trade, but judging by their actions, i.e – a holdout, it was clear that they wanted out.
15. Jacob Trouba – Winnipeg Jets
We’ll start with the most recent name on the list in Jacob Trouba. It was reported just this past month that Jacob Trouba requested a trade out of Winnipeg. For a franchise like the Jets, it’s of the utmost importance to keep their young stars happy and sign them long term, because Winnipeg will never be an attractive destination for free agents.
It’s puzzling then, that the Jets wouldn’t keep Trouba happy by placing him on the right side of the blueline, where he feels more comfortable. Here was statement made by Trouba’s agent, Kurt Overhardt, regarding his client’s trade request:
“The situation is not about money; it is solely about our client having the opportunity to realize his potential as a right shot NHL defenseman.”
14. Jonathan Drouin – Tampa Bay Lightning
Thankfully for the Tampa Bay Lightning, Jonathan Drouin has since rescinded his trade demand from last season. Following a successful run by Drouin in an increased role this past spring’s Stanley Cup Playoffs, it seems any bad blood between Drouin and the Lightning is history. What led to Drouin’s initial trade request? Well, it was a combination of reduced ice time and Drouin not seeing eye to eye with Lightning coach Jon Cooper.
Lightning GM Steve Yzerman played everything the right way, as he made it clear he wouldn’t just give Drouin away. “I’ll do what’s best for the hockey team,” Yzerman told Sportsnet’s Mark Spector. “Any potential trade is going to made to make our hockey team better, not to [appease] a player.”
Time passed and the two sides eventually put aside their differences. Injuries to the Lightning forwards led to Drouin getting more ice time and he responded. Expect a breakout season from Drouin this coming year.
13. Jason Spezza – Ottawa Senators
It’s one thing when any player requests to be traded, it’s another thing when it’s your captain. A couple of offseasons ago, Senators captain Jason Spezza requested a trade out of Ottawa. Thankfully for Spezza, the feeling seemed to be mutual with Sens management, as the Senators operate on a self imposed budget. The team immediately said that they would honor their captain’s request:
With Spezza on the last year of his contract at a $7 million cap hit, the Sens found a trading partner in the Dallas Stars, who were looking for a second line center behind Jamie Benn. Spezza’s request probably came because he saw the writing on the wall that Ottawa wouldn’t be a contender for a while and he wanted less pressure on him. He’s found a perfect home in Dallas.
12. Jason Allison – Boston Bruins
As hard as it is to remember, Jason Allison was once one of the most consistent point producers in the NHL. From 1997 to 2001, Allison was a stand-out on a very mediocre Boston Bruins team. Over five years with the Bruins, Allison played 301 games, and recorded 294 points. With his contract expiring in 2001, he felt like he was owed a substantial raise for carrying the Bruins through the late 90s. Unfortunately, the Bruins felt differently and felt it was time to re-load.
Entering the 2001-02 season, Allison held out of Bruins camp, and made it clear that either the Bruins would pay him or he wanted out. The Bruins responded by sending their captain to the Los Angeles Kings for Jozef Stumpel and Glen Murray. Allison failed to produce in L.A. and struggled to stay healthy until his retirement in 2006.
11. Chris Pronger – Edmonton Oilers
The Edmonton Oilers only got Chris Pronger for one season, but boy what a season it was. In the summer of 2005, the Oilers landed Pronger from the St. Louis Blues in exchange for Eric Brewer, Doug Lynch and Jeff Woywitka. While the Oilers only managed to squeak into the playoffs as a no.8 seed in 2005-06, having Pronger proved to mean everything, as the Oilers shocked the hockey world by reaching the Stanley Cup Final in 2006. Pronger was a big reason for that, as he was the stud defenceman the team had long missed.
Unfortunately, the fun was over after that run. Just days after their Game 7 loss to Carolina, Pronger requested a trade, despite being under contract for another four years. The request was cited for “personal reasons” but the prevailing thought is that Pronger’s wife was not happy living in Edmonton. Pronger quickly became Public Enemy no.1 in Edmonton and was traded a few weeks later to the Anaheim Ducks.
10. Martin St. Louis – Tampa Bay Lightning
Martin St. Louis is arguably the greatest player in Tampa Bay Lightning history. It came as a big shock when he requested a trade out of Tampa Bay after the Lighting were the only team to give him a shot as an undrafted player. The timing of St. Louis’s trade request was very suspicious, as it occurred just after Steve Yzerman had elected not to include St. Louis on the Team Canada roster for the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
St. Louis claimed the move was not about that at all, as he simply wanted to be closer to his home in Connecticut, and as a result, would only waive his no-trade clause to be sent to the New York Rangers. So here you have a guy not only asking for a trade, but only giving him GM one possible team to work out a deal with. Luckily for Yzerman, he managed to grab Ryan Callahan and a 1st round pick, which isn’t bad, considering St. Louis retired just a year and a half after this trade.
9. Steve Larmer – Chicago Blackhawks
Steve Larmer is sort of a forgotten star in Chicago Blackhawks history. Larmer played 13 seasons with the Blackhawks, going on an impressive iron-man streak of 884 games. Suddenly, one of the Hawks’ most prolific players of the era requested a trade. Larmer cited wanting a “change of scenery” heading into the 1993-94 season. Ironically, the change wouldn’t be all that drastic, as Larmer was reunited with his former coach Mike Keenan.
Larmer’s holdout from Chicago cost him a shot at history, as he was only 84 games behind Doug Jarvis’s record of 964 games. In November 1993, Larmer agreed to be sent to New York in a three-team trade. The timing couldn’t have been better, as Larmer won a Stanley Cup with the Rangers that same season.
8. Keith Primeau – Carolina Hurricanes
Keith Primeau began his career in Detroit and he was one of the bright young stars in the NHL through much of the 90s. Unfortunately, as good as the Red Wings were for much of the 90s, the Red Wings went into the 1996-97 season without a Stanley Cup. The Wings, feeling they needed to get tougher, sent Primeau to the Hartford Whalers in exchange for Brendan Shanahan, a scorer with a nasty side to his game.
After three productive seasons for the Whalers (who became the Carolina Hurricanes) Primeau held out heading into the 1999-00 season. Primeau’s holdout went well into the season and Primeau essentially worked his way out of town. Primeau would be traded to Philly with Rob Brind’Amour going to Carolina. The Flyers granted Primeau’s contract request, signing him to a five-year deal worth $22.8 million.
7. Dany Heatley – Ottawa Senators
Just one year into a six-year, $45 million contract, Dany Heatley essentially handcuffed the Ottawa Senators into trading him away. Heatley had grown to be unhappy in head coach Cory Clouston’s system and it led to his lowest point production since his rookie season, which led to his request.
GM Bryan Murray said that Clouston was hurt by Heatley’s request, taking it as a personal shot at the coach. “The frustrating part for us is we have gone through several coaches here that we couldn’t win enough games with,” Murray stated. “to be kind of blindsided, in his way of thinking anyway, by one of your players – not wanting to fit in. That’s hard for a coach to accept.”
Heatley further handcuffed the Sens when he refused to waive his NTC for a move to Edmonton. Eventually the Sens worked out a deal with the Sharks, who sent Jonathan Cheechoo, Milan Michalek, a 2nd round pick and a 5th rounder.
6. Mike Peca – Buffalo Sabres
The Sabres have had several successful periods in their history but a common theme that has hurt the franchise is not being able to pay their star players when they reach their prime. Just a couple of years removed from their run to the 1999 Stanley Cup Final, the Sabres couldn’t come to an agreement with their captain Mike Peca. Peca would sit out the entire 2000-01 season, leaving his future in Buffalo up in the air.
When a player sits out an entire season, that’s really digging deep and with Peca asking for more than what the Sabres could afford, they virtually had no choice but to trade their captain. Peca was then shipped to the New York Islanders in 2002 for Tim Connolly and Taylor Pyatt.
5. Alexei Yashin – Ottawa Senators
You have to think that the Ottawa Senators once held a special place in their heart for Alexei Yashin, given that he was the expansion franchise’s first ever draft pick. Yashin, for all his downfalls, was very productive on the ice for the Senators throughout the 90s and in 1998-99, he reached career highs, recording 94 points, with 44 of those being goals. Yashin happened to be in a contract year and after a long dispute, Yashin sat out the 1999-00 season. Unfortunately for Yashin, an arbitrator ruled that Yashin had to honor the final year of his deal with the Sens.
Following a 88-point season in 2000-01, Yashin was sent to the New York Islanders in perhaps the greatest trade in Sens history. The Sens would acquire Zdeno Chara and the 2001 draft’s second overall pick, which they used to draft Jason Spezza.
4. Pavel Bure – Vancouver Canucks
Pavel Bure was arguably the most electrifying hockey player in the 90s. The Russian Rocket wowed crowds across the NHL and the Vancouver crowd was blessed to watch someone so talented perform in front of them. Sadly by the late 90s, the Vancouver Canucks franchise found themselves in a state of turmoil. Bure dropped a bombshell on the team when he said that he would not play out the final year of his contract in the 1998-99 season.
Brian Burke, Canucks GM at the time, let Bure sit at home rather than pay him and while Bure never officially requested a trade, it was clear he had no more intentions of playing in Vancouver. In January of 1999, Burke struck a deal with the Panthers, landing Ed Jovanovski and a first round pick.
3. Eric Lindros – Quebec Nordiques
We all know this story. Prior to the 1991 NHL Entry Draft, Eric Lindros made it clear that he would not play for the Quebec Nordiques if they drafted him with the first overall pick. The Nordiques did take Lindros and for an entire year, they refused to trade him, adamant about making him their franchise centerpiece. Lindros wanted out due to a lack of marketing potential and citing the city’s isolation.
In 1992, around draft time, NHL president Gil Stein intervened and convinced the Nordiques to trade Lindros for the good of the game. After all, he was billed as “the next one” and nobody wanted to see Lindros sit at home. The Nordiques ended up getting quite a good return for Lindros, landing Peter Forsberg, Steve Duchesne, Ron Hextall, Kerry Huffman, Mike Ricci, Chris Simon and multiple first round picks.
2. Paul Coffey – Edmonton Oilers
Paul Coffey was seeking a major raise in pay following the 1987 Canada Cup. As we know looking back, the Oilers were experiencing financial troubles and were already worried about whether they’d be able to keep Wayne Gretzky in town for the long haul. Coffey was looking to double his pay, as he was making $325,000 at the time. Seems like chump change today, doesn’t it?
Coffey was eventually suspended by the Oilers after he refused to play until being given the raise he wanted. He worked his way out of town, as the Oilers sent Coffey to the Pittsburgh Penguins in November 1987 in a seven-player trade. The Oilers would win the 1988 Stanley Cup without Coffey, but Coffey would eventually win a Cup again, with the Penguins.
1. Patrick Roy – Montreal Canadiens
This one was all so sudden. On December 2nd, 1995, Patrick Roy started at the Montreal Forum against a juggernaut Detroit Red Wings team. Roy had the worst night of his career, surrendering nine goals in an eventual 11-1 loss to Detroit. Roy was humiliated by the affair, as the Montreal crowd even gave him sarcastic cheers when he would make an easy save.
Roy was livid that coach Mario Tremblay left him in the game that long. When he was finally pulled, Roy marched right up to the team president Ronald Corey, who was sitting behind the bench and told him he’d never play for the Canadiens again.
Sure enough, a few days later, Roy would be traded to the Colorado Avalanche, along with Mike Keane, for a laughable return that included Jocelyn Thibault, Martin Ručinský and Andrei Kovalenko.
Since the trade, the Habs have had trouble reaching elite heights again and of all trades on this list, this one stung the most for a franchise.
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