I understand the disappointment. I really do.
As the Ontario Hockey League’s trade deadline passed at noon on Tuesday, there were some fans of the Soo Greyhounds that expressed disappointment over the team not landing one of the so-called ‘big-name’ players.
Anthony Cirelli, Mitchell Vande Sompel, Mitchell Stephens and Jeremy Bracco were among the high-end players that found their way to new teams in the hours and days leading up to the deadline.
What hurt Greyhounds fans the most was the fact that they landed with teams their own favourite club is battling with in the OHL’s Western Conference.
Without question it would have been nice to have a player or two land with the Greyhounds.
The excitement around the city when the Greyhounds acquired the likes of Nick Ritchie, Anthony DeAngelo, Justin Bailey and Conor Boland was outstanding, but let’s remember that those deals led to a playoff exit in the conference final against Erie, who proceeded to lose to Oshawa in the OHL final.
Yes that Oshawa team added pieces at the trade deadline, but the deals the Generals made were more secondary deals than some of the major deals made that season.
Keep in mind as well that the Kingston Frontenacs made a big splash ahead of the trade deadline last year by acquiring Michael Dal Colle from Oshawa. The Sarnia Sting brought in Travis Konecny for a big price from Ottawa.
Those deals didn’t work out either as far as championship runs.
At the end of the day, success isn’t guaranteed when you add in high-priced, high-end talent at the trade deadline.
“You have to really watch with the chemistry because as much as you want to add, sometimes you don’t want to get away from what made your team successful in the first place,” Greyhounds General Manager Kyle Raftis said Tuesday in addressing the issue. “It’s a balancing act.”
And the price to bring those players in isn’t small by any means. Cirelli cost the Erie Otters first-round pick Allan McShane, three second-round picks and a pair of other picks.
Stephens cost the London Knights four second-round picks and three third-round picks.
Moving the picks to acquire a player of that talent is one thing, recouping them for future development is another. If you don’t have the players in your system that you can move to get them back, it makes the rebuilding process that much tougher.
Adding a healthy Blake Speers is almost as good as adding a player in a trade. And not because it’s of no cost to the team.
At the time of writing, Speers had played just two games with the team this season. Speers being healthy and back in the lineup after playing with Team Canada at the World Juniors is a major addition to the hockey club. And his numbers last season as the Greyhounds were no fluke as he led the team in scoring.
Listen, I get the win now mentality fans in Sault Ste. Marie have. As fans who pay for tickets, wanting to see a good product on the ice is the biggest thing. But keep that in mind.
If the team were to go all-in, sell off some assets to try to win a championship and doesn’t win. Then the team hits a patch where it struggles for a season or two…or possibly more. Fans in Sault Ste. Marie can be impatient when it comes to the success of the Greyhounds.
As much as it was long ago now, I’m sure many fans remember the stretch following the Greyhounds Memorial Cup runs of the early 1990s. There were a lot of empty seats at the Memorial Gardens when the team was struggling. And that hasn’t changed over the years. When the team is playing well, people are in the building but that tends to change when the team is not playing well.
Don’t get me wrong, I would enjoy getting the opportunity to watch players like Stephens, Vande Sompel, Cirelli or Bracco on a nightly basis. But it’s just not that easy to add players like that to your lineup. The Greyhounds are a team that has played some great hockey at times this winter. Just sit back and enjoy the ride.