I hate trade deadline day. I always have, I probably always will. But last season's deadline debacle (as some have called it) of trading NY Islanders Captain Bill Guerin seemed to be the most painful.
Guerin is a great leader. He is wonderful in the room, he is forceful on the ice, he is entertaining with the media. He was important, admired and appreciated. He was honest and direct and you always knew where you stood with him. He was a pleasure in Uniondale.
For whatever reason, he wanted to leave. With appreciation for everything he had done for the Islanders, Garth Snow acted in good faith looking for a deal that would benefit all parties, most importantly Guerin.
He thought he had a deal. The Islanders kept their Captain off the ice in preparation of being moved. Something went wrong and the media picked up on it and ran.
Garth Snow never gave up trying to find a deal for his Captain; one that would be agreeable. He found one with the Pittsburgh Penguins. It wasn't because Guerin, who at 38 still has a scoring touch, was not a desirable commodity. It was cap space and geography.
I'm bringing this up because I had a conversation on Twitter and was asked about the deal. I really have no details. I have personal observations. I have that woman's intuition that has never failed me.
It was a painful deal for Garth Snow to make. He seemed somewhat hurt by having to move the man that he put so much faith in by surprising him with the Captaincy at his introduction press conference on July 9th of 2007, one week after signing a two year deal. He had to move him for something, or lose him for nothing at the end of the season we would all like to forget.
The Pittsburgh Penguins, with two of the most talented players in the league, were a perfect place for Guerin to land. He also knew he would take a huge amount of flack for the conditional 5th Round pick he received in return. But Garth is a smart man and worked stipulations into trading for Tampa Bay's original draft pick that would upgrade it to where it is today, a third rounder.
The day Guerin was traded, the club released this statement from Garth Snow:
"The entire Islanders organization has the utmost respect for Bill Guerin and we sincerely thank him for his time on Long Island and as the team's captain."
I was not at the press conference where he announced the trade. A few days later, I had a chance to ask Garth Snow about it. He had heard all the reports of the situation being "mishandled." The man I know to be sincere and honest with me was reflective.
"It really was the best deal out there, Dee. Really." Translation: This was the best I could do for both the Islanders and for Billy.
Garth doesn't lie to me. It would be like trying to lie to his mother. If he doesn't want to give me an answer, he will smile and just NOT answer. Period. There would be silence. He won't give me the PR speech in his pocket and he won't make up something for the sake of answering.
By making this trade for Bill Guerin he gave him another shot at the prize. The Penguins needed Billy Guerin. Billy Guerin needed the Penguins. Snow now needs a Captain who wants to lead a young team against the odds.
However, while the Islanders organization was criticized for this move when it happened, they should be commended for it. Bill Guerin and the Pittsburgh Penguins stand on the doorstep of heading to the Stanley Cup finals. Garth Snow has an additional third round pick in a very deep draft. Talk about a "Win - Win" situation.
Good Luck Billy. Maybe that cup will have your name on it more than once.