A reader suggested a natural follow-up: the anti-Riveras, superstars who spent their career bouncing around multiple teams. So this week we’re going to take a look at the 10 greatest players in NHL history who played for at least five franchises. And yes, it goes without saying, we’ll be ranking them.
Fair warning: This list is almost by definition going to be heavily slanted to the last two or three decades, since it was almost impossible to play for five or more teams in the Original Six era. So any octogenarians who are still furious that Milt Schmidt didn’t make the cut last week may want to just skip this one altogether.
One other caveat: We’re looking at the total number of franchises played for, meaning multiple stints with the same team do not count. That technicality ends up disqualifying a surprising number of decent candidates, like Luc Robitaille, Alexander Mogilny, and Teemu Selanne.
I’ll pause here while everyone assembles their own, vastly superior lists.
If you’re an NHL general manager pulling the trigger on a trade, there are a few ways the move can blow up in your face. Maybe the star player you get back has nothing left. Maybe the deal messes up your team chemistry. Maybe somebody gets hurt. Maybe your owner panics and forces you to overpay.
Or every once in a while, maybe you get what has to be a GM’s worst nightmare: when an established player you’ve traded away suddenly takes his game to the next level.
We’re not talking about the long shot prospect who develops into a star down the road. We mean the guy you had on your roster and thought you knew pretty well, who almost immediately transforms into one of the league’s elite players. Suddenly, a deal that might look defensible or even downright smart at the time it's made ends up haunting a franchise for a generation.
Here are eight deals that saw teams give up on a player who turned out to be a year or less away from making the leap to superstardom:
It would appear that the NHL’s firing season is upon us. We’ve already seen two GMs relieved of their duties since the lockout ended — Brian Burke’s oddly timed dismissal in Toronto, followed by Scott Howson finally being put out of his misery in Columbus. Last week, we got our first coaching casualty.
And it was a big one. Lindy Ruff had held the distinction of being the NHL’s longest-serving head coach but this month got the pink slip after more than 15 years on the job in Buffalo. If Lindy Ruff can be fired, anyone can.
So who’s next? Let’s take a look around the league at some of the coaches and GMs who find themselves on the hot seat.