Don’t expect much, if any, trade activity during the All-Star break.
Fans of NHL trade rumors know there’s two occasions during an NHL regular season when there’s a moratorium on trading roster players.
One is a ten-day “freeze” during the Christmas holiday period, followed roughly two months later by the NHL trade deadline at the end of February or early-March.
As the NHL takes a break from its regular season schedule for the upcoming All-Star weekend (January 26 to January 30), it appears there could also be an unofficial “trade freeze” during that period.
It would certainly make sense, as it would create an awkward situation for the league to have the All-Star weekend overshadowed by a blockbuster trade, especially if the deal were to involve one or more participating all-star players.
The last thing league headquarters wants is the media buzzing about the impact of such a trade, rather than focusing attention on the skills competition or the game itself, especially when one considers what a yawn-fest the actual All-Star game has become over the years.
It’s been a while since a player participating in the ASG was traded during the All-Star break.
On Thursday, January 30, 2003, the Florida Panthers traded defenseman Sandis Ozolinsh to the Anaheim (then-Mighty) Ducks in a four-player swap.
Ozolinsh was to participate in the 2003 All-Star game as a representative of the Panthers, including the skills competition on Saturday, February 1st and the Game itself the next day.
He decided to skip the skills competition, because he would’ve had to participate wearing the uniform of his former team, which understandably he didn’t feel comfortable doing. The league, in its infinite wisdom, subsequently fined Ozolinsh an undisclosed amount.
It’s probably safe to assume the NHL brain trust doesn’t want to repeat that embarrassment.
One would be hard-pressed to recall the last time a trade occurred during the break which solely involved players who weren’t participants in the ASG.
Such a move would certainly make life difficult for those players. Most have made plans for this break period, which usually involves jetting away somewhere with family or friends for a well-deserved mini-vacation from the long grind of an NHL season.
Being traded during the season creates enough upheaval in a player’s personnel life, but it would make things decidedly awkward while they’re off on vacation during the ASG break.
It’s expected, of course, that with so many general managers in attendance in Ottawa for All-Star weekend, there will likely be some face-to-face trade discussion, laying the groundwork for deals in the coming weeks as the February 27th trade deadline approaches.
That being said, it’ll be surprising, even shocking, if any trade, let alone a significant one, occurs during this weekend.
**UPDATE** And to prove me wrong, the Calgary Flames dealt center Brendan Morrison to Chicago. Oh, well, at least his trade won’t overshadow the All-Star festivities, and it wasn’t an All-Star player.