THE MOTHER OF ALL TRADES
WARSAW TRADES TEAM LEGEND SIDNEY CROSBY TO CHICAGO IN EXCHANGE FOR CHICAGO SUPERSTAR PATRICK KANE
It was a cold day in Warsaw and the snowfall was accumulating rapidly. Warsaw Stealth GM Tomek Wolski put his phone down, hands shaking while he leaned back in his chair, staring into nothingness. He had just finished talking with GHL commissioner Howe Romney after making the biggest trade of his life; The Legend Of Warsaw, The Icon Of Halifax, The Hockey God of Cole Harbor, The Captain, or as his teammates call him: Sid. Sidney Crosby had just been traded to the Chicago Chiefs in exchange for Patrick Kane. Fans were still sleeping in their beds and had no idea that their beloved captain had just been dealt to Chicago in exchange for Chiefs fan favorite Patrick Kane. “It was honestly one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life”, Wolski said during a phone interview just a few hours after completing the trade. I was surprised for him to call me out of the blue but I had to take the opportunity to talk to a GM who went out of his way to call me and happened to sound so upset. I had to know why and when he told me, I couldn’t believe it. “You know, I can’t believe it either. It's one of those… It's umm… Some moments define careers, some moments save franchises, other moments upset everyone, and some moments end eras. I think this is one of those rare moments that fits all of those descriptions. Its a major, major move for us.” Wolski said as he struggled to keep his composure.
While Warsaw has always been like a second home for Sidney Crosby, for the past few years his homesickness has only gotten worse. “I just really wanted to play in North America again,” Crosby said during our interview in a nice little Chicago coffee shop called “The Organic Nick”. “Warsaw is amazing, it's lively, and I enjoy the international feeling that this league gives me but… I just want to play home games in the states again. I want to be closer to my family. It would be great to be able to fly home on off days between games. In Warsaw, I can’t do that. I’m coming home and it's honestly a relief.”
But on the other side of the coin, Patrick Kane can’t wait to get out of Chicago. While he’s had an amazing career which includes many accolades and Stanley Cup victories he’s ready for a new chapter, not simply in terms of his career but also his life. “I just want to start fresh after all I’ve been through,” Kane said and he looked exhausted, perhaps the stress of his surroundings finally showing through all of that charisma of his. “I’ve done so much here but people continue to focus on the negativity that’s been thrown my way. They still call me the cabbie or the… You know, there were false accusations made and some people still can’t let go of that stuff. I just want to go out without so much commotion everywhere. Like last week I went out for coffee and it took me an hour just to get a cup of coffee because of all the traffic, the lines, the goddamn economy too.”. It's obvious to me that Patrick Kane is still a star on the ice but off the ice, I get the feeling that he’s ready for a quieter life. The Stealth will certainly put him in the spotlight but he won’t be hounded by the media to anywhere near the extent of what he was used to in Chicago.
Chicago GM Darius King was reserved in his answers as per usual but even he couldn’t control all of his emotions. “You know, Patrick Kane is like a… He’s almost like a… He’s very special to me,” King said at the trade press conference. He refused to comment one on one and I think it was because he was worried about being able to hold it together. During the press conference he sounded calm and collected, but sometimes got lost for words. “and to trade someone like that, a man who has done so much for not only this team but the city too, it is a call you never want to make. But it was clear to me, after talking to Crosby, Kane and then both of them together during a conference call, that this trade would be necessary if either one of these guys was going to keep playing hockey for years to come.”
Sidney Crosby pulled the Stealth out of the shadows and into the sun but carrying the franchise on his back has taken its toll on him. Warsaw was put back on the map by Crosby and he kept them both competitive and relevant for years. On the other side of the world, Patrick Kane has been one of the sole reasons why Chicago has experienced so much success and he certainly made an impact that will never be forgotten. Not to mention the fact that Kane will most likely go down in history as one of the greatest, if not the greatest, American born player in the game's history. For one player, they’re looking for a new chapter in life that’s calmer, more focused on hockey and for the other, they’re looking to be closer to family and friends again while worrying less about the little things.
“I just want to be able to go home again between games, that’s just it,” Crosby said. “I want to be able to fly home during a 5-day break. Get running again on my old stomping grounds and just take it all in. Breathe the air there again just because I can. I haven’t been able to do that for a long while.”
Meanwhile, Patrick Kane says that he’s lost too many friends and taken too much criticism, as mentioned before, and overall he’s tired of the Chicago scene and wants something fresh. “You know, I talked to Sid and he painted a really nice picture of Warsaw,” he said and he almost sounded happy but not quite. There was something in his voice however, perhaps hope. “I feel like Warsaw has gone to hell and back and on some level and so have I. I feel like I can learn something from the people there and how they pulled it off. I haven’t seen the world enough either, you know? I’ve seen those cities in a limited fashion but once I settle down in Warsaw, I can just fly to Paris during the bye week for example, then go to Berlin and still be able to make it back to the arena for practice. I definitely can’t do that right now and I feel like I can still grow as a person and this is the way I intend to do it.”
When the trade broke and people saw who had been traded, fans experienced a myriad of emotions but none of the fans I talked to were overly surprised. “I wasn’t surprised in the least bit and I don’t think any hardcore fans of the Chiefs were,” Beau Kerhand said, a Chicago native who’s been a Chiefs fan for over 35 years. “Kaner has obviously done it all here and now he’s gonna go and do it all in Warsaw. They’re gonna love him. They’re really gonna love him there.” Other fans’ comments were too explicit for me to include them but needless to say that they were disappointed more than anything. I talked to a Stealth fan, Tyler Moth, who’s been a fan of the Stealth since before Crosby was drafted and he said that he thinks Sid is too good to be with just one team in his career. “He will always be an Agent Of Stealth, no doubt about it,” he said with a cunning smile. “But I think he’s the type of guy who cares about people so much that he wants to be closer to family and friends and he’s obviously not getting younger. So I think he wants to come back home where he's closer to family and just relax a bit. I think that’s all it is honestly.”
While Patrick Kane and Sidney Crosby will surely make an impact on their new respective teams, it remains to be seen just how big that impact will be as they're both later in their careers. Kane will be a first-line winger who can still make anyone he plays with better and Crosby will continue to be a force on the ice and off the ice. It's going to be interesting to see if Sid can tone down the intensity in his speeches now that he’ll be closer to home but on the other hand, he could also exude more passion with the ability to win a cup near family and friends. One thing is for sure, these players, teams, and fanbases will never be the same again after this trade. It will certainly take some time to get used to seeing these two superstars dazzle and captivate their respective fans while wearing foreign jerseys but that's all part of the lovely sport we call hockey.
Article written by Kyle Standard