When the NHL trade deadline brings tumult, peace, and reflection
The Blue Jackets' busy days leading up to the deadline provided a reminder for the Sabres about where they've come from and why relative peace now is a good thing
When the weeks and days tick down toward the NHL trade deadline, it creates different dynamics across the league. The cool and calm some teams can conduct themselves this time of year is countered by tension, stoicism, and nerves elsewhere.
It’s the time of the season when emotions run the highest everywhere across the league. Teams are either fighting for playoff positions or resigning themselves to the likelihood they’re not making the playoffs. Meanwhile, players are trying to stay focused on the game while also filing away the possibility that they, or their friends and teammates, might not all be together in hours or days as the clock counts down to the deadline.
In Buffalo, what became the annual rite of passage of seeing guys moved out for picks or prospects has been replaced this season by a virtual status quo while their young group gets to have its first taste of being in a playoff hunt. Going from one extreme to the other over the course of a few seasons makes this time of year feel like a relief even though the stress level is still high for good reasons.
Still, with the skate being on the other foot, so to speak, being in a new position is an eye-opener for those who’ve been around long enough to know what the other side is like.
“Thinking about it, it's been every year that I've been here, it’s been ‘what are we going to do,’ except for the one year we picked up Simmer (Wayne Simmonds), or it was we weren't going to do much,”Sabres captain Kyle Okposo said. “But yeah, it's definitely a different feeling. We know where we're at, and we're probably not going to subtract from our group. So, it's just a feeling of calm, and definitely less anxiety around the room and just guys just know what we have to do.”
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