As everyone now knows, the Panthers traded Bryan McCabe to the New York Rangers for Tim Kennedy and a third round draft pick. Kennedy was stuck in Hartford all season because the Rangers were afraid to put him through re-entry waivers. The Panthers will take the risk since any other claiming team wouldn't be able to put him on their NHL roster. That's a story for tomorrow, or Monday.
This trade should stop the playoff talk, though it won't. Playoff teams don't trade their captain. They may force him to retire mid-season, but they don't trade him away at the deadline. Dale Tallon is agressively rebuilding this roster and if anyone doubted it before, this should make it clear. I noted at the beginning of the season the number of players left from the 2006-2007 roster at the beginning of the season was 4. Since letting a few free agents walk in the summer, Tallon has traded 6 members of last year's roster and banished another one to Europe. Like Martin, I expect that the roster will have similar turnover within a few seasons. The difference is that roster will be full of young players, not veterans acquired via trades.
McCabe was the latest to go in this plan. While the original trade was a coup for Martin, McCabe obviously didn't fit into Tallon's plans. If they truly weren't going to bring him back next year, then the return isn't bad, although it will be a blow if Kennedy doesn't make it through re-entry waivers, as the team is severely shorthanded, at least until Evgeny Dadonov returns from injury. The thing to keep in mind is that reports are that McCabe waived his no-trade clause only for the Rangers and that gave Glen Sather leverage in any trade.
A lot of fans look at the numbers, and while it's true that the team didn't make the playoffs in McCabe's short time here, a player is more than his stat sheet and a team is more than where they finish in the standings. Later tonight, I'll move my signed Panthers Bryan McCabe jersey from the regular closet to the closet where I keep the semi-retired ones where it will hang next to the Gregory Campbell jersey I pull out when the Bruins are in town. I'll wear it when he comes back to town with whatever team he's playing for next year, but for this season I still have Dmitry Kulikov and Stephen Weiss. Anyway, to make my point, I will relate a quick story about that particular jersey.
I saw Cake play at an amphitheatre in Boca in January. It was kind of a cold night and I didn't feel like wearing a sweatshirt, so I grabbed that particular Panthers jersey. At the setbreak, while I was waiting for the band to come back on, an older couple walked by and stopped to comment on the jersey. It turns out they knew him. I think they lived near him or had kids in the same school. I didn't catch how they actually knew him. They just stopped because they wanted to mention how much they liked him. They weren't hockey fans. They just thought he was a really great person and wanted to share that with someone who was obviously a fan. The gentleman told me about how he'd broken his finger in a game a couple of days before and had kind of nonchalantly shown it to him. "Yeah, look at it, it's broken." A couple of days later, he had his jaw broken in a game against New Jersey, but finished the game missing only a shift. It was reported after that game that he was already playing with a broken finger when he was injured. I think those two things say a lot about Bryan McCabe. The Panthers should be able to replace his 22 points. I hope they can soon replace everything else he brings to the team.