Hockey’s Worst Trade
By Gregory Sanchez aka sugarpooper
On February 7, 1996, What is believed to be one of the worst trades in NHL history occurred. What seemed to be an already utterly gloomy year for Winnipeg Jets fans got even worse. After the rising NHL market in the United States forced small market teams like the Winnipeg Jets to sell their franchise to American businessmen Steven Gluckstern and Richard Burke, fans in Winnipeg were still shocked to hear their star player was traded for a couple of promising young players. The relocation of their team didn’t seem to hurt as much as seeing the heart and soul of the team get traded away for some teens. It is hard to comprehend sometimes just how fortunate the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim were in this trade.
Teemu Selanne’s 76 goals as a rookie is a baffling record. His 132 points that season were a franchise record. Despite these amazing statistics, He was dealt to the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim along with Marc Chouniard for two first round draft picks, Chad Kilger and Oleg Tverdovsky. Winnipeg Jets fans were left in the dust, wondering what in the world happened. A very interesting part in one of the worst trades in sports history, is that Teemu Selanne still plays with the Anaheim Ducks. This was obviously his introduction to the brand new hockey club and perhaps this is where their long term partnership started. Selanne has been a future hall Of famer since his very first NHL season, and still continues to thrive at the highest levels of hockey. He is practically surpassing some of hockey’s greatest in statistics anytime he gets a point, meanwhile Kilger and Tverdovsky ended up being underachieving first found draft picks, to say the least.
When the trade happened, what was at the time the head coach of the Winnipeg Jets Terry Simpson said it best: “I don’t think it is realistic to expect two young players like this could come in and turn your team around, although I do think they will play hard, they’re committed to winning.” Even Chad Kilger, Anaheim’s first pick in 1995 was selling himself short; “We’re both 19 years old, this is my first year. I think we’ll have our impact eventually.” Trades like these are strictly for building a team’s future, but with the Jets leaving Winnipeg for good next season, it was a complete nightmare for Manitoba hockey fans. Chad Kigler went on to play 714 NHL games and has 218 points. Oleg Tverdovsky, played 713 NHL games and registered 317 points, the majority of those coming from assists. For Anaheim, this trade turned out to be a true blessing in disguise.
An entire fifteen years later, the National Hockey League finally paid their dues to all Winnipeg hockey fans & fans throughout the province of Manitoba. In May 2011, Manitoba hockey fans finally got their hockey club back. The Atlanta Thrashers were sold and relocated to Winnipeg. Public demand immediately forced the new hockey club to change their name back to the Winnipeg Jets, but the old logo and all of its assets remaining to the Phoenix Coyotes. The new Jets team is a thriving organization, and If there was ever any indication the fans of Winnipeg, Manitoba missed Teemu Selanne it was on December 17th of 2011. Much like Saku Koivu’s return to Montreal, the standing ovation both men received before and during the game was truly one for the ages.
I suppose with Teemu Selanne spending most of his career with the Anaheim Ducks, perhaps this trade was meant to happen. Being only six years old at the time it took place, I don’t think I’ll ever fully understand the dynamics of this trade. Both the Jets and the Ducks will more than likely retire Teemu Selanne’s jersey. The Finnish Flash remains to be an all star in the NHL, the same can’t be said about Chad Kilger and Oleg Tverdovsky. The two first round draft picks had mediocre careers to say the least, and Selanne’s rookie records with Winnipeg will remain in the record books forever. It is hard to imagine a rookie getting to the NHL and scoring 76 goals, along with 132 points…
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