We made it. We survived another NHL Trade Deadline. Is everyone rested, hydrated, and fed? All safe and accounted for? Take a moment to find your center, maybe drink a calming chamomile tea or eat some chocolate to soothe your nerves.
For those new to hockey or just wandering in on accident, you may be wondering what the fuss is all about. What’s the NHL Trade Deadline, anyway? It’s pretty much what it sounds like. After 3:00 PM EST on Wednesday, March 1, no new deals or trades could be submitted by teams looking to spice up their rosters before the playoffs. The week or so leading up to the Deadline is always a mess of rumors and speculation, and even the most even-keeled fans don tin hats and crunch numbers, trying to predict what players they might lose in the days to come.
This season some big trades went down well before Wednesday, aggravating heartburn en masse among many hockey fans. We saw Ben Bishop, previously of the Tampa Bay Lightning, go to the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for goalie Peter Budaj and some loose change. The Dallas Stars began unloading their bearded players one by one – Patrick Eaves, Jordie Benn, and Johnny Oduya went to Anaheim, Montreal, and Chicago, respectively – and the Minnesota Wild acquired Martin Hanzal and Ryan White from the Arizona Coyotes days before the Deadline hit.
Fortunately – or unfortunately, if you thrive on drama – the Deadline day itself was a bit of an anticlimax. Pittsburgh Penguins fans were at the edges of their seats in dread, expecting to lose beloved goalie Marc-Andre Fleury in the chaos. Fans of the Colorado Avalanche refreshed trade trackers in terror, convinced they’d be saying goodbye to star players Matt Duchene, Gabriel Landeskog, or both. But none of those trades happened. Not much of anything happened, really. Deals went down, but there was nothing to rival the shock and awe of last year’s P.K. Subban/Shea Weber trade, for example.
Despite the lack of major trade drama this year, nobody leaves the Trade Deadline completely unscathed. Some of us mourn the loss of beloved players, some must come to terms with new faces on the team, and others are just having a hard time dealing with change. For those feeling lost and wondering how to go on with life, you’ve come to the right place.
Now that you’ve weathered the storm and made it through to the other side, a bit worse for wear but still breathing, you earned some serious rest and relaxation. If you lost one of your favorite players this week, try not to think about that just yet. Set it aside for a moment and focus on self care. I recommend a hot bath, glass of chilled rosé, and a playlist of Enya’s greatest hits (I am readily available on Twitter for Enya recommendations).
If you’re bath-averse, do whatever you do to chill out for an evening. Whether that’s meditation, a vigorous workout, a Call of Duty marathon, a trip to the local dive bar – it’s up to you! Just take some You Time to find your center and forget about hockey for a while.
Don’t Suffer Alone
The great thing about being a sports fan is that you’re never truly alone. You an make even the most minimal effort, whether online or IRL, and you’ll be able to connect with people who love the same team you do. After you’ve taken some time to regroup and treat yourself, reach out to fellow victims of the Trade Deadline. Many hockey fans are part of established communities where we feel safe airing sports-related grievances and commiserating with like-minded fans. If such a community is available to you, or if you’re part of one already, use them. That’s what community is for! Share the poem you wrote in farewell to Andreas Martinsen when he was traded to Montreal. Ask if anyone else shed a tear when they heard the news that Kevin Shattenkirk was abandoning them for Washington. Someone’s bound to be feeling the same way, and you know what they say: misery loves company.
If you’re not sure how to find a community of fellow hockey nuts, start with social media. Try Facebook groups, Twitter hashtags, and whatever weird teen stuff happens on Tumblr (don’t ask me, I’m old). Hockey fans are enthusiastic and welcoming, so jump right into the conversation and start a Trade Deadline mourning party.
Remember the Good Times
Sing the songs that remind you of the best times. Wait, that’s Chumbawumba. Whatever, it’s relevant. If you’re suffering from a particularly painful loss this week, instead of dwelling on how hard it will be to see an old teammate in his new colors, appreciate the memories you created together.
I may have lost Dwight King to the Montreal Canadiens, but I will remember with fondness pretty much every goal he scored – they were that rare and unexpected. Dallas Stars fans, don’t think about the fact that Jordie Benn is now a continent away from his brother Jamie, brothers in Victory Green no more. Instead, watch your favorite Stars highlights featuring the Benn brothers expressing brotherly affection, and be glad that you got to enjoy it while it lasted.
Imagine All That Future Winning
It may seem like your team’s general manager was on hallucinogens when he made a series of questionable trades just before the Deadline – hello, Marc Bergevin – but who’s the real GM here? Your team’s new roster may not seem much improved, or it might look like a smoldering garbage fire at the moment. But don’t get hung up on appearances, stats, or even necessarily science. If a player wasn’t producing with his old team, maybe all he needs is a change of scenery to get him firing on all cylinders again.
So instead of focusing on all the things that could go wrong as a result of a trade or two, think about how it might revive your team. These trades happen for a reason, so give your new boys a chance. Maybe even create a vision board of all the games they’ll help your team win in the final stretch before the playoffs. They could probably use those positive vibes.
Don’t Think About the Expansion Draft
Seriously, don’t think about the expansion draft. There’s a new NHL team in town, the Vegas Golden Knights, and you’ll have plenty of time to worry about them after the playoffs. Many of us are starting to feel surges of anxiety, wondering which of our favorite players we’ll lose to Vegas when it conducts its dreaded expansion draft on June 21. But there’s plenty of time to fret about that, so push it out of your mind and focus on surviving the playoffs.