The trade deadline is a tough time to be an NHL GM.
Everywhere you go, everyone is asking you about trades. Are you buying? Are you selling? How many moves will you make? Fans around the league are buzzing with excitement, counting down the hours to one of the most-anticipated dates on the hockey calendar.
So sure, the fans are happy. But you, an NHL GM, are miserable. You don’t want to make a trade. You hate trading. And so do almost all of your colleagues around the league.
It didn’t used to be that way. Back in the old days, trades were frequent and often franchise-altering, and a GM with enough guts could remake his team with just a few bold moves. But those were different times. Back then, two grizzled GMs could sit down at the bar, look each other dead in the eye, and hammer out a blockbuster by the time the third or fourth round had been slammed down.
But not you. You've surrounded yourself with a small army of advisors and assistants. The scouts tell you one thing, then the analytics guys say something else. You're drowning in data, reports and opinions. And if we're being honest, you're not really allowed to do anything without running it by the owner first.
Trading is hard. Too hard. Your life would be so much easier without it.
But there's just one problem: The fans. Those idiots ruin everything. They seem to have it in their heads that the team they support with their passion and hard-earned dollars should actually be doing everything in their power to try to win. They keep expecting you to get off your behind and do what you're paid to do.
It can wear on you. And at some point over the next two weeks, you might even start to feel like caving into the pressure and actually, you know, accomplishing something.
Resist that urge. Stay strong, NHL GM. You can get through this. And to help you out, we've prepared this special guide to help you keep your eyes on the prize over the trying days ahead. Where the prize, of course, is taking the next two weeks off.
1. Blame the salary cap
Repeat after me: "I can't make a trade, because the salary cap makes my job too hard."
Honestly, most of the time you can just stop here. Claiming that the cap makes trading too difficult seems to work on about 75 percent of the fans out there, and just about all of the media. They'll just shrug and accept it, and then they'll leave you alone.
Never mind that we've had the cap for a dozen years, and everyone should have figured out how it works by now. Never mind that working within a budget has been part of a GM's job for a century. Never mind that this isn't the NBA, with complex rules around balancing salaries in trades. Never mind that 23 of the league's 30 teams already have enough cap room to add at least $2 million at the deadline. Never mind that teams can retain salary or take back contracts to balance the books.
Ignore all of that stuff, because that's what fans have been conditioned to do over the years. Just blame the cap. Most of the time, that will be enough.
2. Point to the standings
How's your team doing these days? Not well, you say. Well then, you can't make a trade now. Everyone knows that the absolute worst time to make a deal is when your team is struggling. That's when other GMs line up to take advantage of you. Anchors thrown instead of life jackets, and all that. Who wants an anchor thrown at them? Not you.
No trades when your team is struggling. It's just common sense.
What's that? You say your team is actually doing well? Oh, well in that case, you'd be crazy to change anything now. Why mess with a good thing? If it's working, you don't screw around with it. Back away slowly and don't touch anything.
No trades when your team isn't struggling. It's just common sense.
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