The NHL trade deadline is almost a creation of the competing sports networks of Canadian television. Of the four main sports in the US that garner attention of the media on a more or less consistent basis, only hockey seems to have this fever like approach to a basic procedural item.
For the NHL it's eight hours of the best propaganda that they've never had to pay for.
The NFL rarely it seems even trades players, such is its devotion to the idea of free agency, for the life of me I can’t remember the last time I heard of a trade in football either American or Canadian while a season was underway, there all action is off season and normally through an auction of freed football players.
Likewise, you don’t see many trades in baseball anymore either, with its confusing bit of trade deadline theatre, where you can still pick up a player for the pennant drive but not use him in post season, baseball doesn’t offer up the same kind of frantic working of the phones that the NHL can provide some years.
Basketball probably put a scare into the big sports networks of Canada last week, their trade deadline came and went with little fanfare and even less action. If memory serves correct only two rather minor trades were made. No bulletins were issued and the conversation was limited to the anticipated date of arrival of the players.
Now imagine for a minute that same scenario Tuesday morning, as the herds of Sporstnet and TSN sit hour after hour waiting for any kind of movement, trying to fill the hours of comprehensive coverage with tales of trades that never happened.
The league’s GM’s have already been pretty busy, Calgary has long since shored up their troubles as Darryl Sutter made a few smart additions that have already benefited the Flames, Peter Forsberg the blue chip of the deadline stocks has already found a new song to sing in Nashville, Atlanta mortgaged the franchise over the weekend, Vancouver added some needed strength and veteran skills on Monday.
All that may be left will be a few more sales out of the St. Louis and Florida offices and the rather annoyed Jeremy Roenick and Georges Laraque finding much anticipated new mailing addresses and a hopeful exile from Wayne's World.
The two main networks will have legions on duty Tuesday, their cell phones and Blackberries like swords and shields, fending off rumours, tracking down facts, begging for snippets of information. Eklund the mystery blogger and the Hanson Brothers join their Hockeycentral panel for Sportsnet, while over at TSN the always connected Bob McKenzie and ever informed Pierre McGuire will share their thoughts with the rest of the usual suspects.
TSN got a bit of a dry run in on Monday night, during the Montreal / Toronto game, with the exception of the dealings by Dave Nonis earlier in the day, there was little in fact to talk about, rather it was a lot of speculation over which GM’s were going to be selling and which ones were heading to the market to trade their beans.
It’s the kind of dedicated coverage that the main networks normally give to an election, with reports from the outlying districts and definitive words from the decision desk, it all gets under way at 7 am on the west coast, 10 am from deadline central in Toronto.
For those that can't summon up a good cold or other plausible excuse to sneak a day off of work, TSN is running their efforts through their broadband pipeline, Sportnset touts their live streaming plans and The Score promises frequent updates to their website as well.
Now if only there will be some bodies left to trade!
TSN's Trade Center
Sportsnet's HockeyCentral Deadline Bash
The Score Trade Deadline 2007
NHL Trade Central site