From The Road: 28.02.11
TRADE DEADLINE ROAD TRIP: ST. LOUIS & CHICAGO
Mon, Feb 28th
12 NOON: BUS TO THE AIRPORT
T minus 1 hour: countdown to take-off and the trade deadline. From the minute players, coaches & staff began boarding the bus to the Calgary airport, you could tell this wasn’t just any other road trip. The tension was palpable, an extra look of stress on everyone’s face.
With the minutes slowly ticking away until the 1pm MT trade deadline, the question of who might stay or who might go was inevitably on everyone’s mind; that, and visions of players being pulled off the bus or the plane before taking off for St. Louis.
In the first bus: Flames PR, media & a couple of contest winners who get to travel with the team for the two-game road trip. In the second bus: coaches, team staff & players.
As the convoy rolled away with everyone on board, up front, Twitter “refresh” buttons were being pressed incessantly on Blackberries - waiting to see breaking trade news that may affect the team. Calgary claims Brett Carson off waivers. Refresh. Campoli to Chicago. Refresh. Penner to LA. Refresh. Arnott to Washington. And so it went…
I stood in the security check line with Tom Kostopoulos – someone who experienced his first trade earlier this year when he was dealt to Calgary with Anton Babchuk for Ian White & Brett Sutter. He asked me what the deadline is like for us (Flames media). I told him that like them, we’re also just waiting to hear news… hence why we were all glued to our Blackberries. He took a quick look at the Twitter feed on my phone and I’m pretty sure that stressed him out even more.
He then opened up and told me every one of the guys was probably feeling a bit stressed. He remarked that no one ever feels truly comfortable despite their situation, because if it’s not their own name being mentioned by the media, it’s that of a teammate; and any move would undoubtedly affect the entire team.
We then went on to talk about the fact I had two computers and had to use five bins for all of the stuff I was carrying on the plane. And no… it wasn’t shoes & make-up - it was camera-gear & editing equipment. (Heavy equipment too!) He offered to help me carry some of it, and honestly just seemed relieved to not be talking about the looming deadline…at least for a little while.
1:00 TRADE DEADLINE & TAKE-OFF
As we boarded the plane, some players looked more nervous than others - Curtis Glencross being one of them. Reports of flailing contract negotiations surely didn’t help.
You could almost feel everyone collectively holding their breath as the tunnel pulled away from the plane & we started slowly taxiing away. The coast was clear… we were in the air.
Then, David Moss was called to the front of the plane to sit beside coach Brent Sutter.
Curious eyes looked on.
A few minutes later, Curtis Glencross’ fears seemed to be coming true. He was summoned up front & sat across the aisle from the coach beside Jay Feaster’s new assistant, Craig Conroy.
Were they part of a last minute deal? Was the plane going to turn around to drop them off?
I was sitting two rows back & could see David Moss’ face quite clearly – a nervous look slowly turned into a knowing smirk. A few seconds later, Brent Sutter & Craig Conroy were chuckling. It may seem like insensitive timing, but hey, this is hockey - another successful practical joke on a teammate in the books.
Turns out David Moss & a few of the other players, knowing how nervous Curtis was, texted Craig Conroy before takeoff and set the plan in motion. Connie got coach Sutter involved & Curtis fell for it – for a little while.
The look of relief on his face as he walked back to sit with his teammates was indicative of the way everyone else was feeling. Another trade-deadline come & gone, and by the time we left Calgary air-space, everything was back to normal.
Now, time to focus on two big games.
First up: St. Louis.