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NHL Trades: What Happens After?

Eberle vs Strome

There’s been a lot of talk about Jordan Eberle being traded to the New York Islanders for Ryan Strome, which is what prompted this week’s post. I often hear and read comments from fans after trades that frequently go one of three ways:


  1. Shock: “What the h*ll is going on? The management team is making a huge mistake.”
  2. Indifference: “Good luck with your new team.”
  3. Unsympathetic Satisfaction: “I never really liked you anyway.”


Let me start by saying players get traded for a variety of reasons. Sometimes teams believe certain players aren’t meeting performance expectations or that the return on investment of a trade is highly beneficial. Trades also occur due to financial considerations, such as increasing cap space.


However, I’d like to focus on the human element of trades and what happens after they occur. All NHLers are excellent hockey players, but being traded is tough. Players take it personally and often have to use positive self-talk to boost their confidence as they prepare to leave their current team and join a new group. They have to embrace a new experience and accept that some things are out of their control.


With that being said, trades also bring new opportunities. It’s a tough pill to swallow at first, but a good attitude allows NHLers to recognize that a fresh start opens doors. Zack Kassian is a great example. He had a lot of struggles in Montreal and the Oilers took a chance on him. He was able to rejuvenate his hockey career with Edmonton’s support and has flourished ever since.


Wives, kids and extended families are also majorly affected, which is an element people often overlook. I was picked up on waivers by Phoenix at one point during my NHL career and had very little time to react. I received a phone call at noon and was on a plane by three o’clock the same day. My wife and two kids were left at home and it was my wife’s job to let the teachers know the kids wouldn’t be in school, list our house with a realtor, cancel the utilities and still manage our family. Essentially, the lives of players and their families can be completely uprooted in a very short period of time and it’s challenging to adjust.


Professional hockey players don’t ever expect fans to feel sorry for them when trades occur because playing hockey for a living is a privilege. Players get to do what they love and are paid well for it. However, sometimes fans don’t see the full picture – they forget that there is a human element to it all. I usually think about families when a player is traded and I don’t feel it’s fair for fans to say things like, “I never really liked you anyway.” At the end of the day, we’re all people.


Eberle is a very good hockey player, as was Taylor Hall, and they’re both going to add value to their new teams. I understand the “behind the scenes” elements Eberle and Strome are likely dealing with right now and wanted to share some insight with you. I’m excited to see how Eberle and Strome progress, and I hope they settle nicely into their new teams.