Thursday, February 11, 2021

Revisiting some of the NHL's most painful breakups

It’s almost Valentine’s Day, and after the year we’ve all been through, it presents a nice chance to refocus on what really matters by asking ourselves important questions like “Am I currently going out with someone” and “What was going out like, I can’t remember” and “Wait, does this person live with me because that would explain who’s been eating all my food.”

Then you could break up with them. That part’s optional, and not necessarily recommended based on your personal circumstances. But it’s how a lot of relationships end, both in the world of romance and in the NHL. This is called tying your sports story into a current event. I am a professional writer.

Years ago, I put together a list of ten of NHL history’s ugliest player/team breakups. It wasn’t an exhaustive list, because it couldn’t be, because this sport is constantly tossing new examples onto the pile. Just recently, we’ve seen the Pierre-Luc Dubois drama play out in Columbus, and it may not be long before the Patrik Laine sequel gets good. We saw the end of long-term relationships like Zdeno Chara in Boston and Joe Thornton in San Jose. And we’re still not sure what exactly happened with John Chayka in Arizona. This league and its soap operas, am I right?

So today, let’s remember a few more bad breakups from NHL history. My first piece covered names like Patrick Roy, Dany Heatley, Eric Lindros and Pavel Bure, but we’ve got plenty more ground to cover. After all, it’s the NHL, where everything ends badly and nobody should ever get too attached.

Sergei Fedorov and the Red Wings, 2003

Happier times: Fedorov is one of the greatest players in Detroit history, a supremely skilled Russian star who won a Hart and two Selkes while providing the dominant two-way play that helped finally tip the Red Wings from regular season monsters to Stanley Cup champions.

But then: In 1998, after a lengthy RFA standoff that dragged well into the season, Fedorov signed an offer sheet with the Hurricanes that was ridiculously front-loaded with bonuses designed to make it unmatchable. The Wings matched anyway, and Fedorov stuck around for five more seasons, but a relationship that had been rocky from the start never fully recovered.

How it ended: Fedorov finally left for good in 2013, signing with the Ducks in free agency, and the bad feelings lingered for years. Even after his induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame, the team still hasn’t retired his number. But time heals some wounds, and there have been recent signs of a thaw in the relationship, especially with Steve Yzerman running the Wings now. There’s even been talk of Fedorov joining the organization in some capacity.

What kind of breakup it was: The couple that’s always on the verge of breaking up but ends up holding on a lot longer than everyone thought before the inevitable final straw.

>> Read the full post at The Athletic

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