Well, today was an eventful day in the NHL.
Hell, it was an eventful 23 minutes or so.
You all know what happened. Taylor Hall got traded from Edmonton to New Jersey for Adam Larsson, P.K. Subban went from Montreal to Nashville for Shea Weber, and some kid from Unionville named Steven Stamkos re-signed with Tampa Bay for eight more years.
So, yes, some shit happened. The internet almost exploded, which is one of the more advanced things that the NHL has ever done.
Everywhere I turn, what I’m seeing are Oilers and Canadiens fans who are irate, rattled, upset… pick whatever words you want, they’re angry. Angry at the teams, angry at management, and just a few 50’s or Pilsners (depending on where you are) from burning Peter Chiarelli and Marc Bergevin dolls in effigy. Leaf fans will be fine, they’re a bit disappointed, but it’s refreshing for them to not be involved on the horrible end of trades for a change. The Shanaplan is here.
You know what? At first blush, I’d probably agree with the angry fans. However, there’s one thing to take out of today’s events as hockey fans:
We don’t know shit.
What do I mean? Read on, friend.
P.K. Subban was the face of the Montreal Canadiens. He’s just a couple years into a long-term deal, he’s smiled and been nothing but outwardly positive through some rough times, and of course he’s made those enormous donations to the Montreal Children’s Hospital. Fans love him, even though teammates sometimes seem to tire of his constant positivity and possibly his constant self-promotion and branding as well.
My initial take is that Subban was moved by Montreal because they’re choosing his coach (yikes) over him, and the safety of an NHL-friendly (read: safe) player like Shea Weber over Subban’s more volatile personality and style of play. This is even though Weber is entering the back end of his career but merely the front end of a huge contract.
However, there’s got to be more to this story. Whatever Montreal fans think about Marc Bergevin right now, National Hockey League GM’s don’t try to make trades that aren’t in the best interests of their teams. They just don’t. Montreal did not owe Nashville a favour of this magnitude, that’s not how it works.
Would I have traded P.K. Subban for Shea Weber? If they were the same age and had the same contract status, probably. Shea Weber is an incredible hockey player (so is Subban, obviously). Would I have made the trade on June 29, 2016? No way.
Maybe, just maybe, there’s a lot more to this than we know. Was Subban more trouble to the team than we’ve been led to believe? We’ve heard rumblings, of course, but we’ll probably never know, because we don’t know shit.
Now, as for the Edmonton Oilers, well, I can relate to their frustration, too. Being a Leaf fan for my entire life has ensured that I can relate to angry, frustrated fan bases and questionable management decisions better than almost anyone else on earth (save for the Chicago Cubs, pre-2004 Boston Red Sox, or pre-2016 Cleveland).
Taylor Hall wasn’t seen as the problem in Edmonton. I think there were a lot of folks who thought that the player to get moved for (horribly badly needed) help on the blueline wouldn’t be Hall. It would be Nugent-Hopkins, or Eberle, or even Yakupov, if someone would take him.
There were also a lot of people who thought that if Hall were to be moved, it would be for someone really, really good. Not a highly decent defenceman whose immediate scouting reports come through as “second pairing” and “maybe number two potential.” That might just be Oilers fans being delusional about Hall’s abilities, but the fact is, he’s an excellent player with a lot of years in front of him, and he wanted to be part of the solution.
But see, again, we don’t know shit.
There has to be more of a plan here, too. Peter Chiarelli didn’t go to Edmonton to enjoy the weather and put together a losing hockey team. They’ve done that for a while now. Pistol Pete went there to try to help the Oilers win again.
Trading Taylor Hall is just the first step, I’d suggest, in a series of moves that are about to happen over the next few days and weeks. This isn’t the one big move that’s going to fix what’s wrong with the Oilers. There’s a LOT more that needs to be done, because there are some serious problems going on.
Now, at the end of the day, I can completely understand the frustration that hockey fans in Montreal and Edmonton are feeling. I do not – repeat, NOT – have any sympathy for them, at all, but if I was in their shoes, I’d be pissed off, too.
All I’m saying is that there’s more going on than meets the eye, especially in Edmonton. There has to be. I really think that the next Oilers moves will make the Hall trade make at least a little bit more sense.
As for Subban, that trade might just be pure stupidity, short and long term, but who knows? Maybe they’ve looked into the numbers and they know that Weber will be the piece that gets them to the next level. I can’t see it being the case, but maybe Subban was doing more harm than good.
I’d say let’s not go crazy and wait it out for a few weeks to see what happens next, but judging by the internet today, all the crazy has already been unleashed, so such a warning would be pointless.
Let’s just remember, we really don’t know shit. Even when it all rolls out in the end, we still might not know shit.
Never forget that, and it’ll all be ok.