Wednesday, March 8, 2023

With the NHL deadline done, I have a nagging question about all those trades

Trade deadline season is finally past us, with a wild few weeks that saw a ton of action. Our trade grades page lists over 30 trades that were worth debating. Some big names were moved. And that’s not even mentioning all the other stars that were rumored to move and didn’t, with some of those discussions sure to resume in the offseason. As a fan, it was pretty great, and it might even be the new normal.

And through it all, something has been bugging me. Do me a post-deadline favor and indulge me as I try to work my way through it.

I want to be clear on what’s going to happen here. Usually, when I throw out an opinion, it’s because I’m trying to convince you that I’m right. I want to change how you think about something. I think I know what the answer is, and I’m trying to get you on board with me.

I’m not sure whether that’s what I’m trying to do here. It might be. But it’s also possible that what I really want is for you convince me that I’m wrong. Your job might be to talk me out of this.

That’s because I’ve spent most of my writing career celebrating the art of the trade, and I’ve made it clear that I love this part of the sports world. Heck, I want to see even more of it. In over a decade of doing this for a living, I may have written more words about trading than any other subject.

But I haven’t written these ones: Are all these trades a good thing? Should we be celebrating them?

Imagine you’re an NHL player. You’re a celebrity, probably rich, and living out your childhood dream while playing a game for a living. You’re also a human being. It's possible that you could be struggling with your mental health, or marriage issues, or addiction, or bad decisions. You might be helping to care for an elderly parent. Maybe your spouse is struggling in their career, or your kid is going through a tough time at school. Through it all, you’re trying to do your job while also dealing with real life, just like the rest of us.

Then one day you get a phone call: You’ve been traded. Your whole life is being upended. You now live in a new city, or time zone, or country. There’s a car on the way and you’re expected to be on a plane in a few hours, to start a new chapter of your life. And you’ve got absolutely no say in the matter.

Is that OK? Is that even a question worth asking?

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