You have just two days left to come up with your excuse to call in sick Wednesday. Here's a tip: develop the early symptoms of a sore throat Monday, just to plant a seed with the boss. If still you look fresh and healthy when you leave the office Tuesday, it will be too obvious. C'mon, this is textbook trade deadline strategy!
Those of you who implement your plan successfully will spend the day on the couch in your boxers, with half a Cheeto hanging from your chin, getting exciting about seventh defencemen being traded for fifth-round draft picks, and occasionally drifting off into a fantasy that your Sens will get Zdeno Chara back. For Martin Gerber, straight up.
Option two is to bring your headphones to work, and watch TradeCentre online from your cubicle. Just don't forget to peak out every few minutes to make sure your manager isn't heading your way looking for a box of paper clips.
Either way, you're set. But what is trade deadline day like for the other key participants? Here's a sampling:
Mark Recchi will have clean socks and underwear ready for packing Wednesday. Again.
Four times previously, the 41-year-old has been dealt before the deadline. And now he has, rather miraculously, become a commodity again with a strong season in Tampa. Recchi will almost surely be switching sweaters one last time on Wednesday.
"I'm going to be nervous for sure," he says. "I'll be by the phone. The first three times, I was dealt a couple of weeks before the deadline. The last time (when he was traded by Pittsburgh to Carolina in 2006) was an hour before. But I had a no-trade clause, so I had some control. Craig Patrick kept me up to date on which teams were in the running, and made sure I was OK with where I might be going. This time, I have no control and no idea. I could go anywhere. But I'd be thrilled just to be in a playoff race again."
While Recchi has been around this block several times, James van Riemsdyk hasn't even left the driveway. Van Riemsdyk was taken second overall by the Philadelphia Flyers two springs ago, and has yet to play an NHL game. He's getting ready for the NCAA playoffs with the University of New Hampshire, but is distracted by hearing his name constantly in trade rumours.
"It's definitely bizarre worrying about trade deadline when I haven't even made the league yet," he says. "I go on TSN.ca all the time to see what the talk is. I'm definitely going to be watching on Wednesday. A good friend of mine, Teddy Ruth (Notre Dame), got traded straight up for Sergei Fedorov at the deadline last year. That's pretty cool, being traded for Fedorov when you are still in college! We rib him about it constantly. So anything is possible. If it happens, I guess I'll just have to roll with it."
On deadline day 2001, Jessie Conroy flicked on ESPN in her St. Louis home, just to see if she knew any of the players being dealt.
"I was just reading the names on the ticker at the bottom of the screen and all of sudden, there's Craig! It hadn't even crossed my mind that he might be traded. He was on the road, and he just ... never came back. I was at home with two little kids. We didn't see him again for weeks. It was really hard."
Ah, the families - that forgotten group often most affected by deadline deals. Craig and Jesse Conroy and their four children are now settled in Calgary and Craig is unlikely to move this year. But it's still a nerve-wracking time.
"My oldest daughter, Taylor, is going to be 12 and we're constantly ‘Googling' Craig's name to see if there are any trade rumours," Jessie says. "We want to stay here in Calgary, so you always worry until that deadline passes."
Detroit coach Mike Babcock knows one thing for sure heading into deadline.
"I know we're not getting a goalie," he says (of what many believe is the Wings #1 need). "We're counting on our guy to wake up. If we can just get a save, we'll be in good shape."
(Umm ... Chris Osgood, I think that was a message.)
Babcock and the Wings will be in St. Louis on Wednesday. After the team's morning skate, he will gather in a war room with Ken Holland and the Wings crack staff of executives and scouts.
"There is only one thing I want and I have made it very clear to Ken Holland," Babcock says (I begged, but he refused to make it clear to me). "As a coach, you are always pushing, you want to win this year. As a GM, you have to think long term. And a lot of the prices teams are asking this year are ridiculous, so Kenny will really have to weigh the cost. And let's face it, when we signed Hossa, that was our trade deadline."
The General Manager
Bryan Murray admits to feeling a little strange heading into this deadline.
"It's really the first time I'd be considered a seller, so it will be different," the Senators' GM says.
All of Murray's key pro scouts will be in Ottawa by Tuesday night to watch the Senators take on the Flames. Then they'll gather in a conference room next to Murray's office around 7:30 Wednesday morning, and wait for the phone to ring.
"As a seller, you end up being on the receiving end of most of the calls. Buyers feel more pressure to upgrade.
"Kuba, Neil, and Schubert are the three guys that keep coming up. I'd like to get a (contract) deal done with Chris, but we'll see what's out there. Even if I don't do anything, I still have a few months to work on contract negotiations with the free agents, so there is somewhat less pressure than when you are buying."
Translation: "I liked it much better the other way."
The Talking Head
We'll be on the air by 8 a.m., and likely won't be off until around midnight. You'll know it has been a slow day if you turn us on around 3 p.m., and Bob McKenzie and Pierre McGuire are having a karaoke contest. Pray for us.
From the Ottawa Citizen