Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Six times NHL fans thought their teams were getting a superstar, and were wrong

It’s hockey season, and Toronto sports fans are sad, as usual. But for once, it’s not the Maple Leafs’ fault.

After weeks of speculation turned into a whirlwind few days of hype, the Toronto Blue Jays did not sign Shohei Ohtani. The world’s greatest baseball player, an unprecedented unicorn who can both hit and pitch like a superstar, chose Los Angeles over Toronto in a record-shattering $700-million deal.

Ohtani joining the Dodgers isn’t much of a surprise, and in fact was the expected outcome all along. But where things get cruel for Blue Jays fans is in terms of expectations. As the process played out, they went from underdogs to dark horse to legitimate contender. And then, on Friday, fans were told that the deal was all but done, with private planes and celebratory dinner reservations already booked; they’d landed the biggest name to ever hit baseball free agent market. But the reports were wrong, and the fan base was duped, their expectations raised up only to be shattered.

Here's where hockey comes in.

While no NHL player can touch Ohtani’s price tag – there are a few teams with full rosters that can’t – that doesn’t mean that hockey fans can’t appreciate getting their hopes up only to have the rug pulled out from under them. So today, we’re going to go back and remember six times that an entire NHL fan base thought they were getting a superstar, only to find out that they weren’t.

To be clear, we’re not talking about the blockbusters that were close in hindsight, like Steve Yzerman to Ottawa or the infamous Vincent Lecavalier to Montreal rumors. Those moves were whispered about at the time, but we didn’t learn just how close they came until after the fact. We’re looking for moments in NHL history where a fan base thought they had a star signed and sealed, then were disappointed.

It happens more often than you might think. Here are six examples, starting with maybe the most famous of them all.

>> Read the full post at The Athletic

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