Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Fedorov Was Traded For Who? What?

Way back in the days of yore, it was once stated about the New York Giants baseball team, "The Giants? Are they still in the league?" It was a slam that reverberated around baseball, especially since it came from an opposing player. It’s still in quotation books, even today.

I had much the same sentiment when I heard about the trading of our old pal Sergei Fedorov.
"Sergei Fedorov? Is he still in the NHL?"

Fedorov was dealt away by the Anaheim Mighty Ducks to the Columbus Blue Jackets, sent away in gift wrap and a bow, in exchange for a pail of practice pucks and a sharp stick in the eye. Okay, so it was for forward Tyler Wright, rookie defenseman Francois Beauchemin, and a fifth-round draft pick in 2006. Can YOU tell the difference?

So this is how far Fedorov has fallen. He has, at age 35, been traded for the hockey equivalent of chopped liver, and what’s worse, he is almost irrelevant, at least now. He’s missed 13 games this season with a groin injury, and only has one assist in the five games in which he has played. It seems like ancient history since he was a factor in the NHL.

The trade has been portrayed as being made because the Blue Jackets are desperate for offense after the injury to their young stud, Rick Nash. The 21 year-old Nash is out til mid-December with a sprained knee. Well, I’d say "desperate" is the proper word if you’re going to send for Fedorov. Of course, the Jackets didn’t give up much, so maybe it’s worth a flyer on their end. Maybe a 50 or 60% Fedorov is still better than some of the hacks the Blue Jackets dress on any given night.

Actually, I hope Fedorov heals and gets back to being a semi-force in the league, because it’s sad to see a once-great player like him kind of fade away like so much dust in the wind. But if his groin doesn’t respond, if his mid-30’s body begins to betray him, then he’ll probably wallow around the league, maybe going from team to team, each club hoping they’re getting the Sergei Fedorov who once owned the ice in his better days.

In Columbus, #91 will be reunited with Jackets GM Doug MacLean, who was an assistant coach in Detroit when Fedorov first joined the Red Wings in 1990.

"We have a lot of young players, a lot of young kids with a lot of talent," MacLean said. "We're adding a three-time Stanley Cup champion, a Hart winner, who still has a tremendous skill level and is excited to play. He'll be a terrific addition."

MacLean neglected to mention that Fedorov’s Hart Trophy -- given to the league’s MVP -- was won in 1994, which might as well be during the Original Six days, for as much as it means today. That’s okay -- the Jackets were desperate, remember.

As for the players Columbus "surrendered" -- Wright and Beauchemin, maybe one day they’ll be answers to trivia questions like, "This All-Star and certain Hall of Famer was once considered a throw-in in a trade for Sergei Fedorov back in 2005."

Sergei Fedorov was young once. And one day he was, when he cared to be, Lord over his ice. He was, at times, dominant, and it was all so effortless for him. His supreme talent and abilities caused many in Detroit to think he was dogging it, not giving it his all. Sometimes it was true, if you asked his own teammates.

Now he must rely on superior effort to keep a job in the league. It usually boils down to that, for 35 year-old hockey players.

1 comment:

Eric J said...

Greg:

It's been a long time since Sergei won that Hart Trophy with 120 points, courted young Anna Kournikova and was a major contributor to a team with championship aspirations. Going to Columbus has be the NHL equivalent of being put out to pasture.

You knew the writing was on the wall in 2003-04 when the Ducks stumbled out of the gate and Sergei was MIA more often than not that season. Perhaps Sergei believed his own hype and drank too much of the Kool-Aide his agent was feeding him.

As a long-time fan of Sergei who remembers fondly how he was the only one who didn't quit as the Ducks were sweeping the Wings in 2003, I can only hope he finds a second wind.