Monday, February 28, 2011

The Butch Goring trade began the tradition of trade deadline frenzy

Almost all deadline deals are flops. The majority involve minor players changing hands who have little impact on their new teams. But the tradition to find a player to put you over the top and help get you a Stanley Cup began in 1980.

In the 1980 season, Butch Goring was traded by the Los Angeles Kings in March to the New York Islanders in exchange for Billy Harris and Dave Lewis, and was widely regarded as being one of the key elements that pushed the Islanders over the top to become champions. That season, he scored 19 points in 21 playoff games to help the Islanders to the first of four consecutive Stanley Cups. He was awarded the Conn Smythe trophy as the playoff MVP.

Since that time almost no one has had a similar impact yet each year there is a flurry of trades on deadline day. Every GM would love to land the next Butch Goring. So why did it work out so well for Bill Torrey's Islanders? Goring was one the King's top scorers but he was a complete player who could play in his own end, win faceoffs and kill penalties. The Islanders already had some top offensive stars in Bryan Trottier, Mike Bossy and Clark Gillies. On the Islanders Goring was a role player and his work ethic allowed him to fit in instantly with New York.

Since that time many GMs have landed impact players at the deadline to push their teams over the top in the playoffs only to be disappointed. Without the benefit of much practice time, many players fail to integrate well with their new teams. With new linemates, coaches and roles, most stumble early on and never have enough time to adjust before the playoffs arrive. Often traded players put a lot of pressure on themselves and set themselves up for failure.

Just consider over the last few seasons late trades involving Ilya Kovalchuk, Marian Hossa and Keith Tkachuk. These trades never really worked out as well as expected. Yet the trade keep coming.

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