Brace yourself for some wheeling and dealing like you have never witnessed before.
"It'll be crazy, I guarantee it," an NHL general manager predicted yesterday. "Judging from the calibre of big names being mentioned in the discussions so far, this will be an unprecedented kind of trade-deadline day (on Feb. 26). It'll be wild and it'll be memorable. It'll leave you mesmerized."
Among the high-profile luminaries likely to be swapped on or before Feb. 26: Mats Sundin, Jaromir Jagr, Marian Hossa, Vaclav Prospal, Olli Jokinen, Rob Blake, Dan Boyle, Brian Campbell, Mike Comrie, Miroslav Satan, Ladislav Nagy and Robert Lang.
And there will be plenty of others.
But there will be errors made by general managers, too, mostly because they want so desperately to get in on the action.
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"We make more mistakes at the trade deadline than we make the rest of the year combined," Anaheim Ducks GM Brian Burke said. "The pressure to win is so intense, unrelenting and unremitting that we as a group make horrible, horrible decisions at the trade deadline."
• The Detroit Red Wings intend to make the biggest splash of all.
With $5-million US remaining in their salary-cap room, the Wings are eying all the top names.
My hunch and my information is still this: Sundin will waive his no-trade clause with the Toronto Maple Leafs and will agree to join the Wings.
• Detroit also covets free agent Peter Forsberg, although he'll likely sign with the Philadelphia Flyers. . .The Ottawa Senators, theoretically bolstered by their Monday acquisitions of Cory Stillman and Mike Commodore from the Carolina Hurricanes, still hope to land Blake, although the Ducks and the Colorado Avalanche have equally strong interest in the Los Angeles Kings' captain. . .The San Jose Sharks had a deal lined up with Ottawa in which they would have unloaded defenceman Matt Carle to the Sens, but Wade Redden nixed its completion by exercising his no-trade right. . .The New Jersey Devils hope to fortify their lineup by obtaining Campbell from the Buffalo Sabres, Nagy from the Kings and Lang from the Chicago Blackhawks.
• The Kings are having a brutal season but they're coming off an ultra-long trip in which they were relatively successful.
They earned nine points (4-3-1), equalling a team record for most points accumulated in a nine-game road trip.
During the trip, the Kings travelled almost 7,000 miles. Only once before, in 2002, had the Kings been on the road for as many as nine games.
• Don't look now, but he's ba-a-a-a-ck.
Chris Simon was on the ice with the New York Islanders Wednesday morning for the first time since he was slapped with a 30-game suspension - the longest in NHL history - for skate-stomping Penguins forward Jarko Ruutu on Dec. 15.
Simon, whose record ban eclipsed his previously held mark of 25 games for clubbing Rangers forward Ryan Hollweg in the face with his stick last March, accompanied the Isles to Toronto for a game Thursday night and is eligible to return to the lineup Feb. 21, against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Nassau Coliseum.
"I've learned from my mistakes and I'm trying to look to being ready and being the best that I can when I come back," Simon told The New York Daily News. "I know what I did was wrong and the league did what they thought they had to do for me to realize that they're not going to accept those type of actions. I wish I would've learned the first time, but I've got to focus on being the best I can be and to help my team to do whatever it takes to win and to move forward, but to learn from the past."
• There's talk, by the way, that the Islanders will meet the New York Islanders for an outdoor game at either Yankee Stadium or Shea Stadium on Jan. 1, 2009.
It would mark the final event for either stadium since they will be replaced by new facilities next year.
• And, for all the heat they take, Mike Keenan and Marc Crawford keep on ticking, just like those watches, and they keep on moving up the NHL's win list for coaches.
Keenan, who's behind the Calgary Flames' bench these days, can surpass Bryan Murray for fifth in NHL history with a victory Friday night. He has 613 coaching victories, behind only Scott Bowman (1,244), Al Arbour (782), Dick Irvin Sr. (692) and Pat Quinn (657).
Crawford, who coaches the Kings, has 462 wins under his belt and is tied for 14th overall with the Columbus Blue Jackets' Ken Hitchcock. The two are only one triumph behind the Minnesota Wild's Jacques Lemaire.