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Sunday, December 6, 2015


When the trade announcement came out indicating that IceDogs goaltender Brent Moran had been trade along with a passel of picks to Flint for Alex Nedelkjovic and Josh Wesley, my first thought was that I hated it, I really hated it.   So I tweeted that and you should never send anything out on social media without a mandatory cooling off period.  How long should be?  Probably longer than it would take to do a background check on guns in the U.S., but lets not get into THAT or we will be here all night.   

Now here I sit about three hours later and my final opinion on the trade is that I really do not like it.  I do not like use the word "hate", and especially for something like a hockey trade. Again, nothing to do with the guys who made the trade.  There will be no "Marty Williamson,or Terry Christensen, his Flint counterpart,  got fleeced on this one pretty good" type analysis.  I will leave that to the true experts and those who hang around the periphery trying to break down trades

My thumbs down on this trade has reall nothing to do with the merits of the trade themselves.   Goaltender Nedelkjovic is a Carolina 2nd round pick and likely headed to the World Juniors in Helsinki, while Defenseman Wesley is also a Carolina draft pick and with dad Glenn a long time NHL'er, along with Uncle Blake, the bloodlines are good.  I am sure that Wesley will swapping yarns with Ryan Mantha, whose Uncle Moe was also a solid NHL'er.  Any team in the league would be lucky to have a fine goaltender like Moran, a Dallas Star draft pick who stands 6'4, which appears to be the minimum height for a goaltender this days!  Plus extra draft picks is the currency of the league now it seems. 

Here's the bottom line.  The OHL likes to tout itself as a developmental league, but here is Brent Moran in his 4th year in the league and now he his headed to his 4th different goalie coach.  I do not profess to know the Flint goalie coach, but you can be certain that he will have a slightly different philosophy from Ryan Ludzik, the current IceDogs goalie coach who likely has a slightly different philosophy than last years coach Lucas Lobsinger, who likely had a slightly different philosophy from Ben Vanderklok.  You get the picture.   All great hockey goalie minds.  All guys who did their homework and know their craft, but each with a different message, and that maybe enough to confuse anybody. I feel bad for Brent.  Last year the IceDogs acquired a goalie as they felt Moran needed support. This year he is the one moving on.  Hey, here's hoping that Brent Moran can have the key unlocked to his vast potential, something it appeared, was not consistently reached in Niagara.  The thing is that it seemed that Moran was getting closer and closer with the IceDogs.   His goals against average was just above 3, and his save % was close to .900.  He was getting a decent run of starts, more often than not playing very, very well and was a large reason for the IceDogs recent run of success. 

The human element of this sucks too.  Brent Moran's family travelled to most, if not all of his games travelling a long distance to watch Brent play. Good people, nice people and very supportive of Brent.  Being the parents of a goalie sucks.  You get to hear how much your son or daughter blew the game, or should have stopped that one etc, etc.  Many times I would see Dan Visentin, father of IceDogs star Mark, embark on a lonely intermission walk to blow off steam, or relieve whatever had stressed him out the period before.   Now that journey gets a little longer, unless there is a super highway being built linking Ottawa and Flint.

Also, I was struck by the picture of Brent Moran with his billets.  He had established a three year relationship with them, and all of a sudden he has to pack up and say goodbye in far too less of a time.  While I get that trades are part of hockey, the relationship and bond that players can build with their billets can last a life time.  My wife's aunt and uncle billeted Sarnia Sting players for years, still speak fondly of them and maintained a relationship with a player and his parents when that player embarked on a professional career.

While Nedelkjovic and Wesley travel together to Niagara to a brand new arena, welcomed warmly by fans and teammates alike, getting to play in one of the finest, if not the finest building in the OHL and a team that is invested in going all in, Brent Moran travels a different journey.  He travels alone to a new country, a new team, a team with nowhere near the potential of his former team and a team that was on the verge of insurrection earlier in the year.  The good things is I guess is that he leaves behind being the unfair lightning rod for criticism heaped upon him and hopefully the change will be a good one.  He is the unquestioned number one in Flint, while there was a reluctance to give him that in Niagara the past two year and he is still playing to get signed by the Dallas Stars.  Maybe the latter part of this year will convince the team from the LoneStar state to get Moran inked. 

The reality of this trade is that we are reminded of how this can be sometimes a harsh business. This is ironic as the league is trying to distance itself from any sort of business model for obvious legal reasons.  It should be pointed out that the NCAA does not trade its athletes, though I suppose I hijack my own arguments as a player can transfer and that can be far worse prospect than getting traded.   I guess there is no perfect system but I'd like to think there is a better system than the one in place  because it is a system that will allow high school age students to get shipped when they are weeks away from their final exams, or in the midst of a school crunch of final projects. They are usurped from billets and friends and dropped into a new city, or new country with new teammates and coaches.      

Trades will continue to be consumated.  Scouts and teams will update the depth charts, check the cupboard for avaiable draft picks,  and those who follow such things will start to float more picks and more names of high school aged or post-secondary aged players to see if they will be a fit in Sault Ste Marie, or London, or Kitchener or Kingston or any other team.   

The human aspect is rarely reported, but the business grinds merrily along. 


  1. I truly believe that Brent is going to do well under Stan's guidance. He runs the Bandits Goalie School and just a few of the guys he's personally trained are:

    Three time Stanley Cup Champion Chris Osgood
    Jason Bacashihua 1st round pick of the Dallas Stars
    Jack Campbell 1st round pick of the Dallas Stars
    Matt Hackett 3rd round pick of the Minnesota Wild
    Scott Wedgewood 3rd round pick of the New Jersey Devils
    Al Montoya 1st round pick of the New York Rangers
    Alex Nedeljkovic 2nd round pick of the Carolina Hurricanes
    Thatcher Demko 2nd round pick of the Vancouver Canucks
    Zach Nagelvoort 4th round pick of the Edmonton Oilers

    Stan always seems to know just what a goalie needs to improve his game or to just fine tune certain parts. If anyone can help him be signed it'll be Stan.

    I remember back when Jeremy Smith was traded to the Ice Dogs and as a Plymouth fan how upsetting that was. But Alex seems to be in the same kind of situation as Jeremy was the year he was traded and it ended up being the best thing for Jeremy's career. While I know Josh & Alex will only be there for a short period of time I know the fans will love them. They are two of the nicest guys, genuine with the fans and always someone you can approach to talk to. I really hope the team goes far for them and I'll be rooting for them.

  2. Great article. You hit it right on about the 'human element'. I think it's important for people to read articles like this one and to understand what really goes on behind the scenes and the impacts on both the players and families. There is as you put it a huge component of the 'human element' that general articles and critiques that fans and pundits forget when they react quickly and/or with emotion to how they think the game should be played or their take on a player's performance. A line I used to say a lot to people in the stand was that "the players do not see the game from the same angle, etc. as a spectator who is looking down from up high and can see every player and every angle and the where the puck is most times. It looks very different when one is on the ice in a corner, or facing a certain direction or surrounded by players and thus the calls and critiques from up above rarely are valid. I also wish Moran the best and hope that this new start will be nothing but a positive move for him and feel agree totally with your analysis.