Saying goodbye to a player who was traded is never easy, even if that player has only spent part of the season with an organization. But, as Tom Gilbert reminded me in a post-game interview Saturday night – that’s hockey.
Ok, I’ll admit, it is absurd to think a player will play his entire career with one organization. It’s actually quite rare, but in an organization with Alex Ovechkin, anything is possible, right?
So with the news last night that the Capitals were in the running for Kevin Shattenkirk, the obvious concern for many was who would be sent in return. In fact, rumors on Twitter went so far as to mention Jakub Vrana and Madison Bowey!
I won’t lie – at that point I was dejected. While Caps fans were cheering, I was preparing for the worst. Such is life as a fan/reporter for an AHL club. Who would Hershey be saying goodbye to in order for the parent club to get the piece they need to chase that elusive Stanley Cup? Who would I potentially interview this weekend to help our fans get to know? That part is nerve wracking – is the guy happy to be here or just a tad bit angry? Is he an unwilling participant in a larger move? Will I say something to make things worse?
The trade talk and potential departure of someone brought to mind last year’s Connor Carrick move. While I don’t spend every day with these guys, and speak to them here and there, our players in Hershey become, well, OURS. They are OUR boys. They go out and fight game-in, game-out for this storied franchise. And off the ice, I may be biased, but they are absolutely the best! Never once did I fail to see any one of them go the extra mile to make someone smile, especially the younger fans. These guys go out of their way to do terrific things for the Hershey community.
So as I sat, on my couch, hitting refresh on Twitter, jumping over to Facebook, watching the NHL Network on TV, it was a sense of dread. With the talk of the Caps potentially moving Stan Galiev, I wondered – does St. Louis want/need him? Just last week I wrote an article about Galiev and mentioned Pheonix Copley.
Then came the news – Zach Sanford. That, well, that just hurt. As a Caps fan, I get it. As a Bears fan, Nooooo!!!! And then there was this part of me that was happy it wasn’t Vrana and Bowey. I reached out to a few Hershey fans to make sure the mixed emotions I was feeling were shared.
Speaking of mixed emotions, I couldn’t help but feel for Gilbert a little too. Shattenkirk in Washington all but means Gilbert stays in Hershey.
Then this morning, the final pieces of the puzzle fell into place – Brad Malone was also leaving, but Copley is coming back! At least I’m in the right place to talk about roller coasters!
It was hard to watch Copley leave in the Oshie trade, but the move was good for both sides. Now that he’s back, it makes losing a great guy like Sanford a little easier. And I wasn’t alone there.
With hours to go before the trade deadline, I still sit on the edge of my seat as all indications are that it could be quite a long day of negotiations. While it’s never easy to say goodbye to a good hockey player who just so happens to be an even better human being, we always wish them well and cheer for them if the return to Giant Center, after all, once a Bear, always a Bear.
By Julie Beidler