Do Teams Get Good Returns for Trading Stars at the Deadline?

In response to a reader casting doubt on the research supporting my recent Kukla’s Korner article, here’s a look at the returns received by teams who traded away star players at the NHL trade deadline.

On my “Puckin’ Around with Spector” blog on Kukla’s Korner, I recently wrote a post entitled, “Trading Stars At The Deadline Doesn’t Always Pan Out”, in which I stated teams which trade star players at the deadline usually don’t get quality value in return.

I noted several examples (Ilya Kovalchuk, Marian Hossa, Brad Richards, Bryan Campbell, Ryan Smyth, Mark Recchi, Ray Bourque, and Larry Murphy) to support my claim, but one of my readers recently contacted me via Twitter to disagree.

“ think your theory is flawed trading players salaries should be considered boston Thornton Edmonton Gretzky examples won cups”.

“how many players have left Detroit and they still keep winning hossa Federov primeau to name a few”

The Joe Thornton deal wasn’t a trade deadline move (it occurred on November 30th, 2005), but I responded the return the Bruins received (Brad Stuart, Marco Sturm and Wayne Primeau) played no active role in the Bruins march to the Stanley Cup nearly six years later.

The Gretzky trade also never occurred at the trade deadline, taking place in August 1988, and the return (Martin Gelinas, Jimmy Carson, three first round picks) did nothing to prevent the Oilers slow decline following the Gretzky trade.

Gelinas played a role in the Oilers Cup win in 1990, but that victory was due primarily to the number of quality stars (Messier, Kurri, Anderson, Lowe, Ranford, Tikkanen) still in the Oilers lineup. Carson played no part, because he was dealt to Detroit earlier that year.

I asked the reader to shoot me his e-mail, saying I’d be delighted – following this year’s deadline – to provide a detailed breakdown of deadline trades involving major stars, anticipating I’d be too busy, and the task too involved, to examine it at the present time.

He replied, “I give u credit for standing by your article even if it’s impossible to prove. 4 every argument 4 there’s an equal against”.

The more I thought about this subject, the more I felt compelled to conduct a detailed examination of the subject now, rather than wait to do so after the trade deadline. Happily, this didn’t turn out to be “impossible” to prove my point, nor was it as time consuming as I’d originally imagined.

The NHL Trade Deadline was first implemented on March 10, 1980. Here’s a look at the major players who were dealt since then, the return they fetched, and how each deal worked out.

1. 1980: To NY Islanders: Butch Goring.

To LA Kings: Billy Harris and Dave Lewis.

Goring went on to help the Isles win four consecutive Stanley Cups, winning the Conn Smythe trophy as playoff MVP in 1981. Harris and Lewis did nothing to significantly improve the Kings. ADVANTAGE: ISLES

2. 1981.To LA Kings: Rick Martin.

To Buffalo Sabres: Kings third round pick in 1981, first round pick in 1983 (Tom Barrasso).

Injuries ended Martin’s career soon after this deal. Barrasso won the Calder and Vezina Trophies with the Sabres in 1984, on his way to a lengthy, successful NHL career. ADVANTAGE: SABRES

3. 1990. To NY Rangers: Mike Gartner.

To Minnesota North Stars: Ulf Dahlen, Rangers fourth round pick in 1990 and future considerations.

Gartner played 3 1/2 years with the Rangers, netting three-straight 40-plus goal seasons, while the return for the North Stars did nothing to help them. ADVANTAGE: RANGERS.

4. 1991: To Pittsburgh Penguins: Ron Francis, along with Ulf Samuelsson and Grant Jennings.

To Hartford Whalers: John Cullen, Zarley Zalapski and Jeff Parker.

Francis on his own would’ve netted those three, but this remains one of the most lopsided deals in NHL history, as Francis and Samuelsson went on to help the Penguins win two Stanley Cups, while the return for the Whalers did little to improve them. ADVANTAGE: PENGUINS

5. 1994: To Chicago Blackhawks: Tony Amonte.

To NY Rangers: Stephane Matteau and Brian Noonan.

True, Matteau scored a memorable goal vaulting the Rangers into the 1994 Stanley Cup Final, but Amonte went on to play his best seasons during his 7 1/2 years with the Blackhawks, becoming an all-star performer. ADVANTAGE: BLACKHAWKS.

6. 1997: To Detroit Red Wings: Larry Murphy.

To Toronto Maple Leafs: future considerations.

Explained in detail on my blog. ADVANTAGE: RED WINGS.

7. 1999: To Detroit Red Wings: Chris Chelios.

To Chicago Blackhawks: 1999 and 2001 first round draft picks.

Chelios played ten more years with the Wings, helping them to three Cup Finals and two championships. The Blackhawks used the picks to select Steve McCarthy and Adam Munro. ADVANTAGE: RED WINGS.

8. 1999: To San Jose Sharks: Vincent Damphousse

To Montreal Canadiens: fifth round pick in 1999, conditional pick in 2000.

Damphousse went on to 5 1/2 productive seasons with the Sharks. The Habs got nothing of value for those draft picks. ADVANTAGE: SHARKS.

9. 2000: To New Jersey Devils: Alex Mogilny

To Vancouver Canucks: Brendan Morrison and Denis Pederson.

Explained in detail on my blog. EVEN.

 10. 2000: To Colorado Avalanche: Ray Bourque and Dave Andreychuk.

To Boston Bruins: Brian Rolston, Samuel Pahlsson, Martin Grenier and 2000 first round pick.

Explained in detail on my blog. ADVANTAGE: AVALANCHE.

 11. 2001: To St. Louis Blues: Keith Tkachuk.

To Phoenix Coyotes: Michal Handzus, Ladislav Nagy, rights to Jeff Taffe and a first round pick in 2002 (Ben Eager).

Tkachuk went on to spend nearly eight seasons with the Blues, becoming one of their most popular players. The return for the Coyotes wasn’t bad, but failed to produce any star talent equal or greater to Tkachuk, and didn’t significantly improve them. Nagy had the most promise, but he would be hampered by injuries. ADVANTAGE: BLUES.

12. 2006: To Carolina Hurricanes: Mark Recchi.

To Pittsburgh Penguins: Niklas Nordgren, Krys Kolanos, second round pick.

Explained in detail on my blog. ADVANTAGE: HURRICANES.

13. 2007: To NY Islanders: Ryan Smyth.

To Edmonton Oilers: Robert Nilsson, Ryan O’Meara, first round pick in 2007 (Alex Plante).

Explained in detail on my blog. ADVANTAGE: ISLANDERS.

 14. 2008: To Dallas Stars: Brad Richards.

To Tampa Bay Lightning: Mike Smith, Jussi Jokinen, Jeff Halpern, fourth round pick in 2009.

Explained in detail on my blog. ADVANTAGE: STARS.

15. 2008: To Pittsburgh Penguins: Marian Hossa and Pascal Dupuis.

To Atlanta Thrashers: Colby Armstrong, Erik Christensen, Angelo Esposito, first round pick in 2008.

Explained in detail on my blog. ADVANTAGE: PENGUINS.

As we can see, of the fifteen trade deadline deals involving a star player, only one resulted in a team trading away that player getting the better of the deal, and one where the deal worked out for both teams. Of the remainder, the team acquiring the star player got the better of the deal.

To reiterate the point of my original post, when a general manager trades a star player at the deadline for what appears to be a significant return, he’s gambling the return will eventually turn into something around which to rebuild.

In other words, he takes his chances and hopes for the best.

More often than not, the return isn’t worth the player they gave up.

27 Comments

  1. Wow I remember alot of these trades, I love when you re-visit some deals that went down Spec. I remember my dad being a HUGE Butch Goring fan, we had season tickets for the Islanders during those cup runs in the early 80′s. Unfortunatly I don’t remember most of it being I was only 6 years old.

    Anyway, I just saw that Dallas traded Nik Grossman to Philly. Hmm looks like its starting to begin sooner than we thought.

  2. Spector, I think you missed one that should’ve made that list:

    Pittsburgh Penguins traded Alexei Kovalev, Dan LaCouture, Janne Laukkanen and Mike Wilson to the New York Rangers for Mikael Samuelsson, Rico Fata, Joel Bouchard, Richard Lintner and cash. Aside from Kovalev, this trade was basically a bunch of 4th liners and minor league call-ups. Even if Kovalev was the only player received by NYR it still doesn’t make sense.

    The only reason why he wouldn’t make your list, in my opinion, is because Kovalev didn’t play for the Rangers for long, and didn’t make much of a difference to the team.

  3. I believe you are incorrect in your analysis of the Gretzky and Thornton trades.Jimmy Carson was traded to Detroit for Petr Klima ,
    Joe Murphy and Adam Graves. Murphy and Graves along with Martin gelinas formed the kid line in the 1990 cup win. Klima scored the overtime winner in the first game of the final in Boston that propelled the Oilers onto winning the cup in 1990.

    The money Boston freed up by by dumping Thornton allowed Chiarelli to sign Zdeno Chara that following off season.

    Stuart and Primeau were subsequently traded to Calgary for Andrew Ferrence and Chuck Kobasew.

    Kobasew was then traded to Minnesota for a second round draft pick which allowed Boston to salary dump Marco Sturm to the L.A. Kings and package up the Wild second round draft pick and Joe Colbourne to Toronto for Tomas Kaberle and have the cap space available to accomodate him.

    In essence, Joe Thornton yielded Zdeno Chara, Andrew Ferrence, Thomas Kaberle and the 2011 Stanley Cup.

    If it is true that the team that ends up winning the Stanley Cup wins the trade, then both Edmonton and Boston won the Gretzky and Thornton trades.

  4. doug: The returns from the Thornton and Gretzky trades did not directly help those respective teams. Carson played no part in the Oilers Cup victory nearly two years ago, which was largely achieved because of the high volume of regulars from their previous championships still on the roster.

    Dumping Thornton’s salary did not directly lead to the Bruins championship nearly six years later. Yes, they signed Chara, who was a significant factor, but they were fortunate to outbid other clubs for his services, plus they still had to rebuild the team, for if you’ll recall, they still missed the playoffs in Chara’s first season with the team. His presence didn’t turn the Bruins into contenders overnight. Ference was a minor player in the Bruins Cup victory. And the second round pick for Sturm was hardly the key factor in the trade which landed Kaberle.

    The clear winners, in terms of direct results based on the returns, were the Kings (Gretzky) and Sharks (Thornton).

  5. Let’s agree to disagree. The Kings and Shark franchises have yet to win the big prize which ultimately is the whole idea year after year.

  6. doug I think you’re missing the forest for the trees. Even if we count the Gretzky and Thornton trades as wins for the trading team, we’re still talking about 3 successes in 17 tries. Pretty convincing numbers.

  7. I am not a GM, but let me indulge in some of these numbers and speculation here.

    i would say Doug’s doing quite well for the forest. Great breakdowns all around. However, I Really appreciated doug’s perspective. There is a tendency in retrospect to forget to follow all of the indirect consequences of a trade decision years after the fact – especially in a salary cap era. Strange as it might seem, sometimes having cap space or money in your piggy bank is just as important or sometimes more important than having a moderately important roster player – whether they’re a star or not.

    It’s a question of time.

    The budget context and the cap context of the time in which a trade is done is very important to remember.
    The year in which the fruit of a trade is reaped, can be irrelevant (with the benefit of 20/20).
    From a managerial possition, It’s also irrelevant whether the actual player traded for bring success, or whether he has to be flipped several times to bring the success.

    And, Assuming Sucess is all about eventually winning the cup,

    Then,

    3 successes in 17 tries is actually amazing odds considering “success” means “cup”.

    A risk no doubt. However, a trade that results in a 17.6% chance in a cup, may be a risk worth taking.

    In addition, let’s not forget the 2 trades that were a wash. That may mean that 5 of every 17 blockbuster trades that are done are either giving you great return, or good return.

    There is a 29.4% chance that you will either win the cup, or, at least not go backwards.

    Those odds are very difficult to come by, I would imagine, for a GM considering the consequences of a deadline tight decision on a team potentially gestating into a championship – one year down the road or several, a shot at the cup with those odds is one worth considering.

  8. Put it this way: if the intent of the Oilers and Bruins was to later flip part or all of the respective returns for Gretzky and Thornton for better returns down the road, then you could make the case that, in the long run, those deals favored them.

    Problem with that line of thinking, however, is that wasn’t the stated intent. Because it never is. Sather didn’t make that move thinking, “In less than two years, I’ll flip Carson to the Red Wings for Graves and Murphy, which will ensure we win another Stanley Cup”. The Bruins never stated, “Trading Thornton will free up cap space to sign Zdeno Chara, plus the return will be used to later on acquire marginal pieces to be used to help our team win the Stanley Cup in five or six years time”.

    They couldn’t say that, because, like all general managers, they had no clue how well or poorly the initial returns would pan out. They gambled, just like every GM when they trade away a star player for a big return, and hoped for the best. You won’t find anyone with common sense proclaiming the Oilers won the Gretzky trade, or the Bruins the Thornton trade.

  9. Let’s face it, the decision to trade Wayne Gretzky was not a general managers decision and nor was it a trade in a true hockey scense. It was a sales transaction that was made between the owner of the Oilers – Pocklington and the owner of the Kings- McNall and involved the sum of $10 million.

    The other players involved in the trade Marty McSorley, Mike Krushenisiski, Jim Carson and Martin Gelinas and draft picks were the players the G.M.’s decided to trade as part of the sales transaction.

    To acquire a $7 million a year hockey player that, when his NHL pay checks disappear in the second week of April, so does he , is highly questionable – particularly when you already have a similar player with the same attributes and salary already on the payroll .

    It does not matter how many points and awards that you win in the regular season, it is what you do in the post season when you are essentially playing for free. Boston decided, whether or not it was right or wrong at the time, that going forward they would not win a Stanley Cup with Joe Thornton on their payroll.

    To tie up 1/3 of your team salary cap on two players and then as the salary cap cap rises by $20 million over the next five years you maintain that 1/3 ratio by acquiring 2 more players in Boyle and Heatley is in my mind highly questionable management in hindsight.

    But then again as you point out, perhaps I am as sharp as a beach ball.

  10. The Gretzky trade is widely considered the beginning of the end of the Oilers as an NHL powerhouse. You’re right that it was a sale transaction more than a hockey trade, as it was due to Pocklington needing cash to shore up his grumbling business empire.

    As for Thornton,you’ll find no one in the Sharks organization who believe that trade was a bad one for their franchise. The majority of Sharks fans also believe it was a great move. As for your tired meme of Thornton “disappearing” in the playoffs, if you’d been watching the Sharks over the past two years, you’d realize that simply isn’t the case. As for the Sharks tying up a lot of money into a few players, take a good look at the top teams in the NHL. All of them have done the same thing. Singling out the Sharks for scorn is a baseless argument.

  11. Yea, I don’t agree with singling anyone out for scorn for such a decision.

    And I agree the Boston GM probably didn’t forsee a player like Chara coming as a result freeing that budgetary space.

    But I doubt they forsaw a player Thornton coming as a result Nealy retiring in 95, and thus plummeting to last place in 96/97 (which resulted in thornton’s draft).

    I also don’t usually agree with what the hockey world thinks about trades or otherwise – and have thus enjoyed this site since the early days of it’s inception.

    So here’s why i think it was good, in retrospect.

    It was a good decision because it served the ‘Culture’ of the Boston Bruins.

    Many decisions are always made daily by an organization.

    But,,
    Do the decisions Add to the Culture, or subtract?

    Does the organization’s culture deepen with increased trust and faith in each other after a decision, or does it shallow?

    When a GM makes a decision, he is asserting a thread of culture into the very fabric of his organization and team. Make a couple decisions in a row, and you start stylizing a weave. Series of decisions, one flowing from the next, deepen the texture of that overall organizational culture. Sever that series by making shortsighted decisions, reactionary or incongruous decisions, and you violate the meaningfulness of your past decisions, degrade your own internal trust, and thus flatten your overall organizational culture.

    When you miss a stitch, you’ve got to go back to scratch.

    (forgive the knitting metaphor and thanks indulge me thus far:)

    When a decision to make a trade is made,

    I think what we really want to know is, was it made for the right reasons? I bet that’s what the players on your team are wondering.

    Thornton leaving brought an allotment of players into their organization (for the price of one), and, allowed space for other’s to be added in addition. There was a diversified return. The amount of decisions the GM had to make following the trade increased exponentially. As far as the Culture of the organization goes, he gave himself the opportunity to make many more decisions and increase the internal trust and faith amongst his people.

    Ultimately, trust and faith is just gives your people more “opportunities” to succeed.

    The more oppertunities the better. (Detroit is an amazing example of this)

    The more players you have opportunities for,

    And the more opportunities you have for each player,

    The exponentially more likely it is some of those players will evolve to contribute their best, and fill the roles you need most – at every level in your organization.

    To of kept Joe might of been good for a few player’s season stats, but it would of been detrimental to all the other unknown players in and coming to the organization because it would of robbed them of opportunities to grow and mature – financially, personally,physically etc.

    Getting rid of Joe, at that time, exponentially increased the internal trust and faith, and thus opportunities, the organization had to succeed. The Cuture of the Boston Bruins organization was served immensely by the series of decisions that could then follow there after.

  12. Haha, lol, forgive me. I take it all back.

    Didn’t realize the GM was fired after Thornton left;)

  13. Coquitlam: No problem. I was puzzled by your initial response because I assumed you knew O’Connell was fired shortly after making that trade. It was clearly a panic move on his part, because the Bruins were off to such a miserable start to that season.

  14. :) yup, agreed.

  15. I remember watching Joe Thornton and the Sharks play aganist the Edmonton Oilers in the 2006 playoffs.The Sharks were heavily favored to win that series but ended up folding like a cheap tent when the going got rough.

    It was clearly obvious to me at that time why Boston traded him away. He is a terrific hockey player, but he lacks passion. He would rather golf than pay playoff hockey. You would not use any of Brian Burkes adjectives to describe players like Joe Thornton or Jay Bouwmeester. Do you think it is just sheer coincidence that every team that Jay Bouwmeester has ever played at the junior and NHL level has never made the playoffs?

    Jerome Iginla has passion. Syd Crosby , Johnathon Toews, Ryan Kesler, Ryan Smyth all have passion. These are all players you could win a Stanle Cup with Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau don’t have it . It is not in their makeup. I would like nothing better for both of them to prove me wrong, but i just don’t see them doing it. Both of those players were non factors with the Canadian Olympic team in Vancouver and were totally out played by the Americans. Was it any surprize that the players involved in the golden goal were Jerome iginla and Syd Crosby and not Marleau and Thornton.

    Alexandre Daigle was a great hockey player. Thye only problem was that he did not like to play hockey. He was forced into playing it by his father amd was very good at it . He just didn’t like it.

    I think that if you are relying on Joe Thornton and Patrick marleau to be your key cogs in winning a Stanley Cup, you should be prepared to be greatly disappointed. If Boston can tear apart their team and win it all five years later, what is a realistic time frame for a team like San Jose to win their first championship?

    At some point in time, every G.M. has to decide if you can win with certain players in your line up or do your chances improve without certain players in their lineup. Do you think Jeremy Jacobs has any regrets about trading Joe Thornton? Do you Boston Bruins fans are aware that Sharks fans are still laughing at them over the Thornton trade.

    As a Bruins or Sharks fan, what would you rather see hanging from the rafters – a retired # 19 jersey or a Stanley Cup banner?

  16. Bottom line, Doug, is the Sharks immediately benefited from the Thornton trade, and because of his presence, they’ve been among the best teams in the league for years, and advanced to the Conference Finals the past two years, in large part because of him. Nitpick all you want, you’ll find you are in a distinct minority when it comes to the evaluation of this trade. Your assessment of him is based on myth, not fact. Thornton played the 2004 series against the Canadiens with cracked ribs. He wore a flak jacket in that series and gave everything he had. Ever had cracked ribs? I have, and breathing is painful enough without exerting yourself. The fact he suited up and tried to play is not indicative of a player who doesn’t care or is only interested in playing golf. Indeed, the fact you’re making that assumption make it more difficult to take your opinion seriously.

    And it does nothing to disprove the point of my post.

  17. Further to my point, Thornton played injured during last year’s Conference Final against the Canucks. Yeah, he was really thinking more about his golf game than helping his teammates.

  18. Well said Lyle. Essentially the basis of Doug’s argument is “the ends justify the means”. It’s an overly simplistic and unfair analysis of the trade justified purely by then end result. But as anyone who watches a Stanley Cup run knows, there are many many factors that go into it beyond one player, captain or not (team, goaltending, bounces, injuries, depth, some luck). Personally I have no doubt that Thornton has the determination to lead his team to the cup, even though it hasn’t happened yet and I am not predicting it will happen this season. But the point is well backed by your examples of him playing through severe pain.

    I will say however, that it is possible for the team giving up the big name to “win” the trade even if none of the returning players become as good as the one leaving. Ideally you get several players who are integral to the team, giving you more depth than you had with the one superstar……not that this is the case in the trades you cited necessarily, more of a philosophical or theoretical opinion.

  19. Thanks, Diceman. What surprised me in analyzing those trades is the sheer volume which worked to the advantage of the team receiving the star player in the deal. I agree it’s possible for a team which parts with the star player to ultimately win the deal, it’s just surprising how rarely that happens, which proves my point that general managers, for all the research they put into getting the best return possible, are ultimately rolling the dice and hoping things work out.

  20. That is exactly what I am saying. if one steps back and lets the dust settle, what appeared to be glittering is not necessarily gold.

    In late 2005, a Boston hockey executive walks into his backyard and makes a decision that to this day makes him subject to redicule and a laughing stock. What did he do that was so egregious, you may ask? Well, he decided that if he cut off the big branch of dead wood stuck in the middleof the tree, perhaps the grow at a better rate or perhaps even flourish.

    He heard their was a hockey guy out on the west coast that liked to collect dead wood and was willing to trade 4 crates of lemons if he could get his hands on a big branch of Boston dead wood. The hockeyworld was shocked at how at anyone would have the nerve to trade dead wood for lemons.

    Well some time would pass, when eventually others would begin to notice at how well that tree in Boston what beginning to flourish. The folks in Boston found out that it made a great place to sit under while enjoying that mighty fine Northern California lemonade.

    So one day not long after, a hockey executive in Ottawa calls up the same guy on the west coast to see if still is interested in trading lemons for dead wood? ” I most certainly am” exclaimed the west coast guy . i will trade you Michalek and Cheechoo lemons for your Heatley deadwood , but i may have so send off the Erhoff lemons to Vancouver first. Eventually he did and another dead wood for lemons was transacted.

    A short time later , Minnesota took notice of what Boston and Ottawa had done and found out much to their dismay that they could Charlie Coyle and Devon Setoguchi lemons for Havlat and Burns dead wood. But there was a catch – minnesota had to agree to take back heatley dead wood. Well both parties eventually agreed.

    Perhaps one day in the not to distant future, some one will walk into Doug Wilsons office, and say ” Um … Doug, have you ever thought that perhaps we should collecting dead wood and learn how to make our own damn lemonade?”

  21. Doug, your lengthy parable still doesn’t detract from the fact the Sharks were the winner of the Thornton trade, nor detract from the facts noted in my post.

  22. Understood. On one hand you can lose a trade yet win the Cup and on the other you can win a trade even though you find yourself golfing in mid May year after year after year. Hollow victories , but a win is a win, right?

  23. Sure but that really isn’t what this whole debate is about…..it’s not about who the better team is now or who won the cup eventually. It’s about who won the trade. And while I made the point that it’s not always about who got the single best player, it is very clear in a lot of these scenarios who came out better overall as a result of that specific trade.

  24. Not a big fan of the plus / minus stat , so take this for what it is:

    Joe Thornton career regular season plus/minus ——– Plus 148

    Joe Thornton career playoff season plus/minus———Minus 28

    Patrick Marleau career regular season – Plus 27

    Patrick Marleau career playoff season – Minus 10

    The newest shiny bauble rumoured to be on the trade market is Rick Nash.

    One of the first destinations he is speculated to eventually be shipped to – SURPRIZE!!! — San Jose’.

    The word has been out for some time, if you want to trade big shiny baubles even if you recieve nothing but bags of pucks in return, make sure you know the way to San Jose’.

  25. return on a trade where draft picks are concerned is hard to really evaluate, that first round pick might be a washout, but that late round one may end up being Datsyuk. Not to mention freeing up some salary. That return also may not happen for a few years, the problem is most gms trade that star in order to make a quick impact on a struggling team, or they are nearing the end of their contract, and resigning them is not an option. Something that I don’t see taken into account though is marketing, fans buy merchandise, teams have promotional materials all with certain players on them, then that player is on the other side, and you have to start over (it’s easier when the player retires, and then goes to another team)

  26. Enjoying the discussion everyone.

    I don’t think Facts should get in the way of Truth.

    While I do think the Thornton deal was the right deal was Boston at the time, it doesn’t mean San Jose lost the trade. Nor do I think that San Jose’s short commings are Thornton’s short comings. Same goes for Marleau – whom has garnered increasing respect from me play off after play off.

    Dumping on players, and people for that matter, is too often an easy releive to polarizing grey complicated situations. This bandwagoning happens a lot and never impresses me, and hopefully rarely persuades me.

    That said,

    With no disrespect to the shark’s organization,

    Doug’s “Lengthy Parable” rings of a lot of truth for me.

    It’s not that the intentions aren’t good.

  27. Being from the Vancouver area, This discussion reminds me a lot of the discussions that swirled around the Canucks during the Naslund/Bertuzzi/Cloutier era. I remember personally being very apologetic for the Canuck’s playoff short comings. Injuries, bad bounces and unforeseen “out-of-our-countrol” circumstances were always louded as responsible for their early exits. A horrific act of rage and violence didn’t help much either.

    The thing was, everyone knew the team was pouring everything on the line.
    Naslund sacrificed a well working hip. The list could go on.

    But, in retrospect, it never really could of happened. Success probably never could proceeded.

    I’ll let you outline the reasons for yourself.

    However, what is most interesting is the irony of it all – which again brings me back to Boston and Thornton. It took those failures to make the further development of the Sedins, Kesler, Bieksa, Edler, and Burrows – not to mention the trade for Luongo.

    Those guys are now the core of the team today, and that core has a very different feel then teams in the past.

    I think Boston’s success might just be as ironic.