House of Pigs – Deadline 2016

“I’m going to go there and do my best and make the playoffs and win that Cup, so I can bring it down here to Edmonton — because that’s where my heart is.”

We make fun of Ryan Smyth blubbering like a baby during this press conference on a very regular basis on the podcast. But at the end of the day, this is exactly what you want from a player on your team. Somebody who loves his team through and through, doesn’t want to leave, but realizes he needs to do what is best them.

Ryan Smyth is probably the perfect example of the ideal team player. In 2007, he was dealt to the Islanders from the team he loved growing up. Tucking in his jersey like Wayne Gretzky and sporting his signature Jofa helmet whenever able to, it’s pretty obvious he didn’t want to play anywhere else. He wanted to be an Oiler, win a Cup as an Oiler and likely retire as an Oiler. But it didn’t happen that way. He was traded. Life went on. He bounced around the NHL in a migration pattern similar to Trevor Linden between stints with the Canucks before finally returning to Edmonton. It’s, in my eyes, the right thing to do if you love who you work for. Do what’s best for the organization.

Joe Thornton on the other hand…

It’s been widely speculated and reported that he might not like being a Shark just as much as he loves living in San Jose. Joe’s refused to waive his no traded clause multiple times over the years because, well, he likes that California lifestyle, which is fine. But you’re not doing what’s best for the team. In his time in San Jose, Joe’s heart, effort and desire have all been questioned. His lack of playoff production is a punch line on its own. It’s caused the Sharks to be in a weird state of limbo, 2nd round exits and removing the captaincy from both Jumbo Joe and Peppermint Patty Marleau. Unlike Ryan Smyth, Joe had a no trade clause and opted to use it. And unlike Ryan Smyth, he didn’t want what was best for the team.

Dan Hamhuis falls somewhere in the middle of these two players.

Did Dan Hamhuis do what was best for his team? Absolutely not. The claim is right now that he gave Canucks’ management two teams he would be willing to waive his NTC for, Chicago and Dallas, which really handcuffed Jim Benning. With Chicago’s salary cap hustle and smoke and mirrors, it’s almost impossible to think they could maneuver Hamhuis on the team without sending some money pit like Bryan Bickell back to Vancouver. And imagine if he was included in the trade? With the Blackhawks’ minimal picks and weak assets already, the fan outrage for the return of Dan Hamhuis would be much worse than it was yesterday.  Luckily the attention span of your average apathetic Vancouver Canucks fan is 3.5 hours. With an appropriately timed noon Pacific Time trade deadline, people were all too tired of raging by the end of the work day that Monday.

Dan Hamhuis was only going to go to Dallas. A deal was worked out. A deal fell through. We don’t know how or why it fell through, but it did. Could Benning have worked out a better deal with another Cup contender in the east or a dreaded California team? Oh it’s very likely. But he didn’t because Dan didn’t want to go.

He’s very vocal about his love for the Canucks and living in Vancouver. It seems to be a solid mix of the Thornton and Smyth situations. On one hand, Hamhuis really likes playing for the Canucks. After the deadline, he spoke about wanting to return to play here, mold young players and continue to be an asset to the team and it’s razor thin blue line. But on the other hand, he also REALLY likes Vancouver. Similar to Jumbo Joe, he just didn’t want to leave.

But this desire to stay put or only go to Dallas really wasn’t what was best for the Canucks, a team in that “shhh, don’t call it a rebuild” phase. They could have received a pick, a prospect or something along those lines for Dan’s services for a couple months. But it didn’t happen. One would argue that constantly mentioning his desires for an Antoine Vermette situation (win Stanley Cup as a rental, return to old team on July 1st) really weakened his value on the ice cold trade market. Did he do this intentionally, to keep himself in Vancouver?

Regardless, you can’t vilify Hamhuis. He loves the Canucks, loves Vancouver and wants to be here for the long haul. The same which cannot be said for Ryan Kesler, who is likely the most hated visiting player in Rogers Arena these days. We all dislike Ryan Kesler for not wanting to be a Canuck and not wanting to play in Vancouver, so how should we feel about Dan Hamhuis? He wants the exact opposite. We should admire and praise him for this.

But are we?

What’s more valuable to the average Canucks fan? A player who wants to stick with your club and win with your club? A player who, if he resigns in the summer, could be an incredibly valuable part of the defence core for the next few years? Or a second round Dallas pick?

Hmmm. 59th overall…



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