Column: Teams trading fan-favorites inevitable at deadline
In hockey, like in life, change is inevitable.
Teams are relocated and rebranded. Divisions are shifted. Rivalries are gained and lost.
However, few changes sting quite as much as the movement of a team's star, as there's nothing quite like the attachment between organization and player.
The NHL trade deadline is this Wednesday and some teams are tasked with the potential separation from their face of the franchise.
On one hand, there are the Buffalo Sabres, who made a preemptive strike by trading superstar goaltender Ryan Miller. The United States Olympian made his debut in Buffalo back in 2002 and never looked back. He was a Sabre for life, or so it seemed.
Buffalo have entered full rebuilding mode and nothing is sacred when it comes to blowing up a franchise. Star Thomas Vanek was sent packing earlier this season and trading Miller seemed like a logical next step. All they needed was a dance partner, which wasn't hard to find, as the St. Louis Blues were an elite goaltender away from potential playoff dominance.
In return, Buffalo gets much needed youth and draft picks and moves one step closer to relevance. As much as it hurts to lose a player you love, nothing trumps winning, even if those victories are potentially years away.
Buffalo isn't the only franchise struggling with an identity crisis. The New York Rangers and Tampa Bay Lightning have discussed swapping captains, with Martin St. Louis heading to Broadway in exchange for Ryan Callahan.
St. Louis has made his desire to play in the Big Apple clear, while Callahan's outrageous contract demands have harmed relationships with both the front office and fans.
Although the trade is merely rumor thus far, it would be a logical step. The Rangers would acquire a talented - albeit aged - superstar, while Tampa would receive a good heart-and-soul guy who may just walk at the end of the year, leaving them with cap room to make offseason moves.
However, there's still nothing scarier in this world than change. St. Louis has been a member of the Lightning since 2000, while Callahan has long been touted as the best of the Rangers' homegrown talent.
This trade deadline has the potential to be one of the most memorable in recent memory, if for nothing more than the fact that we may see some famous faces swap sweaters. The NHL is a league full of passion, grit and love, but at the end of the day it is about adapting to change just as much as it is about scoring goals.
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