NEWARK, N.J. — When Butch Goring left the Kings coach’s office after a game in Montreal on March 10, 1980, he was as angry as he ever had been. He was livid about getting traded.
Yes, there had been rumors in the fall that he would be dealt to the Rockies for Barry Beck, but those had subsided. He figured he was safe at the NHL’s trading deadline.
“I was in disbelief. I was like, ‘What? You’ve got to be kidding me,’ ” he said Saturday, two days before this year’s deadline. “Maybe I was just naïve because I was on a long-term contract. I wasn’t playing a whole lot. My ice time had been cut down in January and February, which I didn’t understand, especially when the coach [Bob Berry] was a good friend of mine.”
He remembers going out to a tavern with a bunch of the team’s young players. “They were in disbelief, too,” he said. Goring recalled how long the next day seemed, flying to New York, checking into the Island Inn, meeting equipment trainer Jim Pickard, winning a game against the Rockies at Nassau Coliseum.
There was no way to tell that the deal that brought him to the Islanders for Billy Harris and Dave Lewis was arguably the most influential deadline trade ever, in any sport. Although other factors were in play (such as the recent addition of Ken Morrow from the Miracle on Ice U.S. Olympic hockey squad), general manager Bill Torrey’s acquisition of Goring still is seen as the move that turned an underachieving team into a dynasty.
Two-and-a-half months later, the Islanders won the Stanley Cup, then followed with three more and reached the final the year after that. It sure changed Goring’s life, turning him into an Islanders icon still on the scene 38 years later as a television analyst.
It all just shows that anything can happen at the deadline and that you definitely can’t judge one of those deals in haste.
Of course, the Islanders almost certainly will not pull off anything so dramatic by the deadline at 3 p.m. Monday. They never have made such history since the Goring deal. But they often have made news, one way or another.
A deadline trade can seem huge at the time and wind up having almost no effect on either side, one way or another. Getting Ryan Smyth from the Oilers in February of 2007 for Ryan O’Marra, Robert Nilsson and No. 1 pick looked like a potential game-changer. It had almost no enduring effect on either side.
On the other hand, a deal can have repercussions for decades. Sending John Tonelli to the Flames for Richard Kromm and Steve Konroyd on March 11, 1986 exacerbated tensions between the team and a key member of the four Cup teams. The relationship has been unsettled ever since, with finally a possible thaw last month when Tonelli was invited back for a ceremonial puck drop.
There still is some question about the apparently disastrous trade on March 5, 2014 that sent Thomas Vanek to the Canadiens for Sebastian Collberg (who still has not played a minute in the NHL) and a second-round pick. But Garth Snow did package that pick with another second-rounder to move up into the first round and select Josh Ho-Sang. If the latter someday becomes a mainstay, does that make the trade a success?
Nothing will ever make the Kirk Muller trade look good. It happened very late, on April 5, 1995, in a season that had not begun until Jan. 20 because of a lockout and Islanders fans wish it never had happened at all. Not long after Muller was acquired from the Canadiens, with Mathieu Schneider and Craig Darby for Pierre Turgeon and Vladimir Malakhov, it became clear that Muller wanted no part of being on his new team. His play reflected that and he was shipped off to Toronto in January.
Although the Goring deal is the Islanders gold standard for trades at or near the deadline, the quiet one on March 5, 1973 turned out to be sterling silver. Torrey traded veteran center Terry Crisp to the Flyers for an unheralded defenseman. That player, Jean Potvin, just happened to have a brother coming out of junior hockey, into a bidding war between whatever NHL team had the first pick in the draft and the rival World Hockey Association. It is safe to say that the WHA had no shot at signing Denis Potvin once the Islanders had his brother on the roster.
Finally, there was a deal that was memorable for the unofficial throw-in. When the Islanders dealt goalie Kelly Hrudey to the Kings on Feb. 22, 1989, they figured they were getting two good prospects in goalie Mark Fitzpatrick and defenseman Wayne McBean. Little did they know they were also getting the presence of actress Alyssa Milano, who had met McBean in Los Angeles and continued dating him even when he was sent to the Islanders minor-league team in Springfield.