The “Player Was Traded Because He Slept With A Teammate’s Wife” Myth.

The Colorado Avalanche’s recent trade of right wing Steve Downie to the Philadelphia Flyers for veteran checking winger Max Talbot puzzled some observers.

Downie, 26, is an energetic, agitating forward with decent offensive skills, whereas the 29-year-old Talbot, though a respected veteran, is more of a defensive specialist.

Several theories were bandied about, suggesting Downie was moved because of his UFA status next summer, or to clear cap space now for another move later in the season. CBC’s Elliotte Friedman revealed a pre-season clash between Downie and Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog was believed the real reason.

And then there were those batty conspiracy theorists who believe the real reason Downie was dealt was he slept with Semyon Varlamov’s girlfriend, leading to Varlamov’s recent arrest on domestic violence charges.

This tripe was e-mailed to me by one of my supposed “long-time followers”, claiming his “good friend” in the Avs front office told him this fantastic piece of “inside info”.

The myth of an NHL player being traded because he slept with a teammate’s wife/girlfriend has floated around like a giant turd for years. Whenever a trade takes place which  doesn’t make sense to some fans, up pops the “he was screwing a teammate’s wife/girlfriend” story.

I first encountered this myth during the 1994-95 season, when Mathieu Schneider was traded by the Montreal Canadiens to the NY Islanders. In the aftermath of that trade, a rumor spread the deal was done because Schneider had an affair with teammate Patrick Roy’s wife.

Schneider and Roy didn’t get along during their years as teammates in Montreal. The low point involved an infamous between-periods dust-up during a game against the Flyers after Roy accused Schneider of not pulling his own weight.

That may have had something to do with Schneider’s eventual trade to the Islanders, but it wasn’t because of a non-existent affair with Roy’s wife.

Another example occurred in 1997, when the Buffalo Sabres inexplicably decided not to re-sign coach Ted Nolan, even though he won the Jack Adams award the previous season as coach of the year.

Nolan had a reputation for being difficult to work with, clahsing with goaltender Dominik Hasek and then-Sabres GM John Muckler (who was also NHL executive of the year that season). Muckler was fired and replaced by Darcy Regier, who made Nolan a contract offer the Adams winner considered low-ball. Nolan rejected the offer and Regier didn’t make another, leaving the 1997 coach of the year unemployed. It was nearly ten years before Nolan got another head coaching job in the NHL.

Some fans, however, believed there had to be a darker reason for Regier’s unwillingness to re-sign Nolan. One of them started a rumor claiming Nolan was axed because he slept with Hasek’s wife. The rumor doesn’t hold up under scrutiny, but it’s a myth which persists to this day.

This myth continues to be recycled with only the names of the players and the teams changing.

Rod Brind’amour’s trade from Philadelphia to Carolina during the 1999-2000 season? Done because Eric Lindros was sleeping with Brind’amour’s wife. Even better, Lindros supposedly suffered one of his many concussions after Brindy attacked him in the dressing room with a folding chair – Stone Cold style! – when he learned the “truth”.

The real reason was Flyers GM Bob Clarke long coveted the Hurricanes big center Keith Primeau and was willing to part with Brind’amour to get him. There was no affair involving Lindros or any of his teammates’ spouses.

Shane Corson and Alexander Mogilny leaving the Toronto Maple Leafs for personal reasons? Obviously, because Corson slept with Mogilny’s wife. Except that’s not what happened. Corson left the Leafs over a dispute with head coach Pat Quinn about his playing time, not because of any supposed hanky-panky with Mrs. Mogilny.

These rumors are not only ridiculous and unfair to the players/coaches involved, but also besmirch the reputations of their innocent wives/girlfriends. Though they’re almost never mentioned by their full names (usually it’s as “so-and-so’s wife/girlfriend”), they don’t deserve this callous treatment.

Most NHL players tend to lead rather ordinary, even boring, lives. Usually the worst we see of them is during their inebriated Stanley Cup celebrations, which more often than not involves some public profanity or some of them stripping off their shirts in a nightclub to the delight of screaming fans.

They’re not all little angels, of course, but in today’s era of 24-hour new cycles and the prevalence of social media, NHL players rarely appear on gossip websites. Incidents like Varlamov’s recent arrest are rare, especially compared with athletes in the other major North American sports leagues.

NHL general managers make trades or coaching changes for a number of reasons. Sometimes the deals don’t make sense to the fans, but you’d be hard-pressed to find moves made because a player or coach was sleeping around with a teammate’s spouse.

This myth makes juicy gossip, but it’s not based in fact. Like most manure, it’s 100 percent bullshit.

19 Comments

  1. Money, sex and power &possibly fame what else starts a conversation or sells newspapers therefore ADVERTISING. Madison avenue really does a # on us.

  2. i bet dollars to doughnuts more NHLers cheat on their wives than not.

    • And you based this assessment on…?

      • The fact that he would. ;)

  3. Ha.

    In Vancouver there is a widely accepted legend that Jeff Brown was traded because he slept with Kirk McLean’s wife.

    Also, it was bandied about on Vancouver sports radio that Schneider was traded because Ryan Kesler had slept with his girlfriend.

    Just goes to show that this story line emerges wherever a fishy trade occurs.

  4. big dislikes/fights in the locker room can affect the team in a season creating divisions.

    I believed that was why Downie was traded. There is no reason to do that when a team was 10-1. He had to have some serious fight/dispute with a teammate or the coaches.

    Roy got traded from Buffalo to Dallas for Ott because of his season ending fight with Ruff that he laid out through the media.

  5. How could you gloss over this bit on Craig Janney:

    His ex-wife, Catherine, is the current spouse of NHL superstar (and former linemate) Brendan Shanahan; it was this that prompted the Blues to trade Shanahan following the 1994-95 season to Hartford for Chris Pronger.

    Or is Wikipedia off base here?? I mean, it’s on the internet so it has to be true, right?

  6. Pronger had an affair in Edmonton….thats why he left faster then kids at school during a fire drill. I had a friend who knew someone that worked at rexal place and pronger did dittle someones wife. I don’t know which one though.

  7. If all these rumours were true then apparently NHL goaltenders should never be married because for some reason all their wives are cheating on them …. ….

    At least there is one real one, but not wife related. Huet was banging someones daughter which is why he didn’t get re-upped in Monteal.

  8. Yeah, this was one of the rumors behind Carter’s trade from Philadelphia. Supposedly he slept with Hartnell’s wife. It’s amazing how many people have a friend of a friend who knows someone in a team’s front office, and is able to have such frank conversations about confidential locker room topics….

  9. Very entertaining piece :)

  10. You are forgetting that the Flames traded Dion Phaneuf to the Maple Leafs because he had supposedly slept with Craig Conroy’s wife. Hence the trade with Toronto for virtually a bag of pucks.

  11. How quickly we forget Gary Leemans trade…..or is that now gone from messy divorce to gossip?

    Hero worship is one thing, but to give a group of people a higher standard of morals and ethics simply because they entertain us is asinine. According to most experts, an average of 40% of men have cheated in relationships, so why should we assume hockey players are any different (from Football/baseball and Basketball players). It might be different if there werent a whole group of pathetic women throwing themselves at them (puck bunnies) or if their lifestyles didnt have them spending almost half their time living on the road with minimal supervision.

    This is one area that the main stream media has a leg up on bloggers, living and following these players and following the unwritten rules of reporting, they have seen questionable behavior daily, but only report on it when the players careers are over and it becomes anecdotal (Don Saleski, Ron Duguay etc)

  12. Three Leafs laid the beats on Gary Leeman right before Leeman was traded out of Toronto. That’s definitely unusual behaviour, even for a disfunctional Leafs team. Good trade for T.O. though ;-)

  13. Re: The Oilers trading Pronger abruptly. It was reputed that Pronger slept with a female sportscaster, and that his wife demanded a trade. This was a very fishy trade, and made no sense otherwise. The Oilers have never had a bonafide number one defenceman since.

    • Rumour when i was in Edmonton was it was the local weather girl and prongers wife caught them, and made him coose between divorce or trade. To this day everyone blames the wife and not Chris! Ha!
      Also joe Thornton slept with my roommate in 2003… Just sayin.

  14. I can’t wait for a rumour that has a players wife sleeping with another woman! Oh wait that was in Slapshot…