Another NHL trade deadline is in the books, although "in the books" is definitely a misnomer, as there wasn't nowhere near enough action Monday to fill one book, let alone books.
It seems we never learn. Every year, deadline day fizzles in to empty hype. Every. Single. Year. And yet, each time it approaches, we act like this will be the time the floodgates open and the trades come pouring out like wine at a wedding.
The Canucks were supposed to be a major part of it, too. With a laundry list of players on the block, unrestricted free agents Radim Vrbata and Dan Hamhuis among them, and with no postseason push to preserve, Vancouver had the opportunity to turn their unwanted and outbound assets into something they could use. When you're rebuilding, that's sorta what you play for on deadline day.
Or at least you'd think so. Instead, the Canucks for keeps on Monday, dumbly hoarding every asset and coming away from the day having accomplished nothing -- unless you consider giving Adam Cracknell to the Edmonton Oilers a move.
This is an unmitigated disaster. There's no sugar-coating it. The Canucks had the best available trade piece in Dan Hamhuis. They had a winger that scored 30 last year. They had veteran depth forwards in waiting. In short, they had moveable pieces. They didn't get moved. Regardless of the circumstances surrounding each non-deal, that's unacceptable. Fans are furious, and they have every right to be.
That's not to say some fans aren't angry for the wrong reasons. The idea that Dan Hamuis is to blame for his non-trade? That's nonsense. Sure, he didn't really want to leave, and he may have dithered when asked to waive his no-trade clause, then suggested in an interview he was just going to be signing back with Vancouver in July -- all things that might sour a team on acquiring a player. But Hamhuis had every right to waffle on waiving, and you can't blame him for answering interview questions.
You can, however, blame the Canucks for allowing him to answer these questions, and say things that might hurt their negotiation position when trying to move him. There was no reason to hear from Hamhuis until after the deadline had passed.
But that may have had nothing to do with it. Trade negotiations may have broken down somewhere else in the process. I don't really care. Rumours that the Canucks turned down this deal or that mean nothing to me -- jilted teams often leak unflattering information about talks that fell apart. So while it may be possible that the Blackhawks offered a strong package, or that the Stars offered a similar package to what they gave up for Kris Russell (which, to be honest, looks to be their version of Raymond, Ballard and a 3rd), or that both teams tried, in vain, to pressure the Canucks into settling for a lesser package at the eleventh hour, it doesn't matter much.
What matters, and what's not in dispute, is that the Canucks did nothing yesterday. I can buy excuses for why they didn't do any one thing. Maybe they overplayed their hand on Hamhuis. Maybe they forgot to shop Radim Vrbata, or their unwillingness to juke his stats with the occasional Sedin shift tanked his value. Maybe no one wanted their other players. But to do nothing at all, to acquire zero draft picks, zero prospects, zero future considerations, to blow it that badly, when you're trying to sell fans on a rebuild and your competence to carry it out, is a disaster.
Fans will stick with this team through losing seasons. They will if there's hope, and the future looks bright. But when your team's management can't even trade Team Canada's Dan Hamhuis, or All-Star sniper Radim Vrbata on trade deadline day, and when you're being outmaneuvered by the Calgary frickin' Flames, how is anyone supposed to believe you can build a Stanley Cup contender, that this management group is savvy and resourceful enough to put together the best team in the NHL?
I'm not calling for anybody to lose their job or anything. But after a day like Monday, one can understand why others might.