Back to the Future Fans will always remember when Marty McFly told his jerk principal, Mr. Strickland, that "History's going to change". Indeed it did, when Marty traveled back to 1955 (I'll stop there in case you haven't seen the movie yet).
Well, it's safe to say many NHL general managers don't utter "History's going to change" when they make a trade that completely decimates a franchise. But whether they said it or not, history really did change following disastrous trades.
For example, just how many Stanley Cups could the Edmonton Oilers have won if they didn't trade Wayne Gretzky? They won five from 1984 to 1990, but it's easy to believe they could have won three more. But owner Peter Pocklington changed NHL history -- for better or for worse -- when he made that infamous deal in 1988.
Good news, Oilers fans. You're not alone in making some woeful deals that hurt your franchise.
Here are 15 NHL trades that teams continue to regret all the years later.
15 Sharks Sink in Craig Rivet Deal
Leading up to the 2007 trade deadline, the San Jose Sharks were among the top teams in the Western Conference. They chose to boast their Stanley Cup chances by acquiring Montreal Canadiens defenceman Craig Rivet and a fifth round pick in exchange for stay-at-home blueliner Josh Gorges and their 2007 first round selection.
Rivet was always a solid blueliner, but not even close to being a superstar. The Sharks were eliminated in the second round of the playoffs, and who did the Canadiens select with that first round pick?
None other than current captain Max Pacioretty, who has five 30-goal seasons under his belt. Rivet scored just seven goals in 91 games with the Sharks. Pacioretty is a face of the Canadiens yet could have easily been an integral part of the Sharks success.
14 Senators Give Away 50-Goal Man Dany Heatley
When the Ottawa Senators acquired Dany Heatley in 2004 for Marian Hossa and Greg de Vries, it was to be one of the greatest trades in franchise history -- and it was. Heatley scored a total of 100 goals and 208 points in his first two seasons with Ottawa, leading them to the 2007 Stanley Cup Final against the Anaheim Ducks.
Heatley scored 41 and 39 goals in 2007-08 and 2008-09, respectively. But he clashed a lot with head coach Cory Clouston and demanded a trade. The Senators gave into his request and dealt him to the San Jose Sharks (along with a fifth roud selection) in exchange for Milan Michalek, Jonathan Cheechoo and and a 2010 second round pick.
Cheechoo scored 14 points in 61 games with Ottawa. Milachek did have 35 goals in 2011-12, but was otherwise an extremely inconsistent winger. The Senators didn't get a whole lot for an extremely rare 50-goal scorer, and they were among the NHL's worst teams for a few years after the trade.
13 Sabres Give Up Franchise Goalie Dominik Hasek
The Buffalo Sabres were among the most frustrating and inconsistent teams before goalie Dominik Hasek arrived. Next thing they knew, Buffalo was a top team in the Eastern Conference -- thanks to Hasek's six Vezina Trophies between 1994 and 2001. The two-time Hart Trophy winner was the NHL's top goalie during the '90s and took Buffalo to the 1999 Stanley Cup Final single-handedly.
But the Sabres decided to cut back on their budget and shipped Hasek to the Detroit Red Wings -- despite making the playoffs in 2001. They received Slava Kozlov and a first round pick in 2002 -- which led to career fourth-liner Jim Slater.
Buffalo hasn't reached a Stanley Cup Final since the trade, while the Red Wings won two Stanley Cups under Hasek. This trade really hurt the Sabres and it took them a few years to find a real number one goalie again (in this case, Ryan Miller).
You don't just trade away the best goalie in the league to cut back on your payroll. You just don't.
12 Panthers Ship Roberto Luongo to Canucks
Despite being one of the NHL's most frustrating teams in the 2000s, the Florida Panthers owned a world class goalie in Roberto Luongo. After struggling with the New York Islanders early in his career, 'Bobby Lou' found a nice home in Florida, posting 35 wins during the 2005-06 season.
But Luongo rejected an extension during the 2005-06 season, and was traded to the Vancouver Canucks (along with Lukas Krajicek and a sixth round pick), for power forward Todd Bertuzzi, depth defenceman Bryan Allen and backup goalie Alex Auld.
Bertuzzi played just seven games for Florida and was traded to Detroit later in the season. Allen was nothing more than a bottom-pairing blueliner and Auld won just seven games in a Panthers uniform.
All Luongo did was become the Canucks all time wins and shutouts leader with 252 and 38, respectively. He led Vancouver to six Northwest Division titles and helped them reach the 2011 Stanley Cup Final. On the bright side, Florida did re-acquire him prior to the 2014 NHL trade deadline, where Luongo has remained since.
11 Bruins Give Away Joe Thornton to Sharks
Joe Thornton was one of the NHL's top centers during his time with the Boston Bruins, scoring 20-plus goals five times while racking up 101 points during the 2002-03 season. 'Jumbo Joe' took Boston to the playoffs multiple times but the team got off to an awful start in 2005-06, so they decided to ship him to the San Jose Sharks.
Boston got Brad Stuart, Marco Sturm and Wayne Primeau in return. Stuart was a solid top-four defenceman but played just 103 games in Boston before moving onto the Calgary Flames. Sturm scored 20-plus goals four times but wasn't anything close to a true franchise centre, while Primeau scored just 29 points in his two seasons with the Bruins.
Thornton has been among the NHL's top point leaders since the trade, and though Boston DID win the Stanley Cup in 2011 -- none of the three pieces they received were part of the championship. They could have either kept Thornton around and possibly win more titles or could have fetched a far better return.
10 Thrashers Trade Marian Hossa to Penguins
At first, it made perfect sense for the Atlanta Thrashers to trade Marian Hossa at the 2008 trade deadline. The former 100-point man was months away from being a UFA, and the Thrashers were among the worst teams in hockey. It was logical to trade him away and acquire young assets for the future.
So they traded him and Pascal Dupuis (one of Sidney Crosby's best linemates), to the Pittsburgh Penguins for Erik Christensen (a third-liner), Colby Armstrong, golden prospect Angelo Esposito and a first round pick.
Hossa helped Pittsburgh reach the Stanley Cup Final. Dupuis helped the Penguins win the Stanley Cup a year later. Armstrong, Christensen, Esposito and the first round pick (used on Daultan Leveille), all disappointed in Atlanta. With no stars to build around, the Thrashers weren't capable of lasting as a hockey market and would move to Winnipeg three years later.
Perhaps the right return in a Hossa trade could have somehow prevented the relocation...
9 Blackhawks Make Chris Chelios Benedict Arnold
Chris Chelios is one of the greatest defencemen in NHL, and perhaps the greatest American to ever lace up hockey skates. He was an integral piece of the Chicago Blackhawks in the '90s, taking them to the 1992 Stanley Cup Final and helping them reach the playoffs on a consistent basis.
But near the end of the decade, the Blackhawks were in misery and decided to trade away their star blueliner. In 1999, Chicago traded him to their arch rivals -- the Detroit Red Wings -- for Anders Eriksson and a pair of first round selections.
The Blackhawks would endure their most disastrous run in franchise history after the trade, and it would be nine years until both Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane came along. Meanwhile, Chelios helped Detroit win the 2002 and 2008 Stanley Cup.
Y'know, you're not really supposed to help out your arch rivals in winning championships. Chicago learned this the hard way.
8 Canucks Give Up on Cam Neely
The Vancouver Canucks saw a lot of potential in power forward Cam Neely, and drafted him with the ninth selection in 1983. Neely was inconsistent in his three years on the west coast, and head coach Tom Watt wasn't happy with his play. As such, the Canucks traded him (plus the third-overall selection in 1987), for Barry Pederson.
Pederson spent just four seasons with the Canucks and began to struggle after a pair of 70-point seasons there. Neely became one of the NHL's elite scorers, scoring 50 goals twice and 30-plus goals six times. He took Boston to the 1990 Stanley Cup Final, though they fell to the Edmonton Oilers. Injuries eventually cut Neely's remarkable career short, but he left a lasting legacy in Beantown.
And oh, the Bruins used that third-overall pick on Glen Wesley. But had the Canucks kept the pick, they would have had the chance to draft Joe Sakic. Imagine Trevor Linden and Pavel Bure with Sakic and Neely.
Poor Canucks fans (yes that includes me).
7 Oilers Trade Playoff Hero Chris Pronger
The Edmonton Oilers made a huge splash before the 2005-06 NHL season, trading for long-time St. Louis Blues star defenceman Chris Pronger. The former Olympic gold medalist, Hart and Norris Trophy winner then signed a five-year contract worth $31.25 million with his new team.
And the results paid off immediately. Pronger scored 56 points and led Edmonton to the playoffs, where they'd ultimately fall to the Carolina Hurricanes in the Stanley Cup Final. But Pronger requested a trade; rumor had it his wife wasn't happy living in Edmonton.
The Oilers traded him to the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for Joffrey Lupul, Ladislav Smid, two first-round picks and a second-round pick. Pronger led Anaheim to its first Stanley Cup championship in 2007.
Those players Edmonton received did very little, though one of the first-round choices did turn out to be Jordan Eberle. Still, Hall of Fame defencemen don't grow on trees, and Edmonton wouldn't make the playoffs for another 10 years following the trade.
6 Capitals Send Jaromir Jagr to Rangers
It's not too often where a team lands a five-time scoring champion, two-time Stanley Cup winner and 1999 Hart Trophy winner. But the Washington Capitals did just that in 2001, when the Pittsburgh Penguins shipped Jaromir Jagr away in a budget-cutting move.
Jagr wasted no time making a name for himself with the Capitals. He scored 31 goals and 79 points in his first season in D.C., followed by 36 tallies and 77 points. But during the 2003-04 season, the Capitals were having issues paying all their top stars, so they shipped away Jagr to the New York Rangers for Anson Carter.
Carter wound up playing just 19 games for the Capitals and was traded to the Los Angeles Kings weeks later. As for Jagr, he's only been one of the most dynamic scorers in league history and continues to play in the NHL at age 45.
Could you imagine Jagr and Alexander Ovechkin on the same team? Washington isn't going to live this deal down for a long time.
5 Whalers Help Penguins Win Two Cups
As if the Pittsburgh Penguins weren't scary enough with the likes of Mario Lemieux, Jaromir Jagr, Paul Coffey, Larry Murphy and Tom Barrasso, the Hartford Whalers were willing to make this star-studded team even more...star-studded.
They traded away perennial 20-goal and 80-point man Ron Francis, physical and hard-hitting defenceman Ulf Samuelsson and Grant Jennings for John Cullen, Jeff Parker and Zarley Zalapski.
Francis and Samuelsson became two of the Pens' best players in the '90s, and led them to Stanley Cup championships in 1991 and 1992. Francis wound up scoring 164 goals and 613 points during his time with Pittsburgh.
And the Whalers would re-locate to Carolina less than a decade later. If they actually chose to build the franchise around Francis, who knows how much more success they could have had in Hartford. We'll never really know...
4 Nordiques Draft Then Trade Eric Lindros
Heading into the 1991 NHL Draft, Eric Lindros was considered by many scouts to be a can't-miss prospect -- the next Wayne Gretzky. Though Lindros made it clear he didn't want to play for the Quebec Nordiques if they drafted him, the franchise chose to do so anyway. What followed was a sequence of disasters.
In a three-way trade with the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers, Quebec sent Lindros to the former. The Nordiques did get star goalie Ron Hextall and flashy Swede Peter Forsberg in the deal, but that wasn't enough to help the franchise succeed.
The Nordiques lost a lot of money and were forced to relocate to Colorado. Lindros made the Flyers a force in the East and took them to the 1997 Stanley Cup Final. We can only wonder what would happen if the Nordiques simply said "Too bad", and refused to trade Lindros...
3 Flames Hand Blues Brett Hull
"The Golden Brett" showed flashes with the Calgary Flames in 1987-88, scoring 26 goals and 50 points in just 52 games. But that wasn't enough for the Flames, who traded him and Steve Bozek to the St. Louis Blues for Rob Ramage and Rick Wamsley.
Ramage played a total of 70 games for Calgary and scored just 23 points during his time in Alberta. Wamsley spent five seasons with the Flames but was extremely inconsistent in goal, posting a goals against average of over 3.00 four times.
Meanwhile, Hull would turn the Blues into a powerhouse, taking them to the playoffs in each of his 11 seasons there. He hit the 70-goal mark twice, including an 86-goal campaign in 1990-91. He ranks fourth all-time in career goals with 741. And to think Calgary basically gave him away for nothing...
2 Canadiens Trade Patrick Roy
The Montreal Canadiens were fortunate in once owning the best goalie of all-time in Patrick Roy. He led the team to the Stanley Cup as a rookie in 1986, while also taking home the Conn Smythe Trophy. Roy, who won 30 games five times with the Habs, also led them to the Stanley Cup in 1993 -- again taking home the Conn Smythe Trophy.
But during a 1995 home game against the Detroit Red Wings, Roy was controversially left in to surrender nine goals. After finally getting pulled, he told management he had played his last game with the Habs.
Montreal fulfilled that promise, trading him to the Colorado Avalanche (along with Mike Keane), for Martin Rucinsky, Andrei Kovalenko and Jocelyn Thibault. Colorado won the Stanley Cup in 1996 and 2001, as Roy turned them into a perennial powerhouse in the West.
Meanwhile, the Habs would struggle over the following six years and haven't reached a Stanley Cup Final since the trade. They should have just kept Roy or at least get a good return for him.
1 The Wayne Gretzky Trade
The Edmonton Oilers became hockey's ultimate team in the '80s. Yes, they had Mark Messier, Glenn Anderson, Grant Fuhr, Paul Coffey, Jari Kurri and others. But they wouldn't have had all that success if it weren't for the hockey GOAT in Wayne "The Great One" Gretzky.
Gretzky became the face of the NHL, leading Edmonton to Stanley Cups in 1984, 1985, 1987 and 1988. During his time with the Oilers, Gretzky won eight-straight Hart Trophies from 1980 to 87 and seven scoring titles.
But following Edmonton's 1988 Stanley Cup victory, Oilers owner Peter Pocklington sought to trade the great one. He was in desperate need of money, as some of his other businesses were failing. The Oilers traded Gretzky to the Los Angeles Kings, with the $15 million obviously becoming the key return for Edmonton.
Must we go on any further? Edmonton could have easily won more Stanley Cups with Gretzky. They managed to win it all in 1990 without them, then endured mediocrity for two-and-a-half decades before drafting Connor McDavid.