NHL Trade Deadline '08: Is Jason Blake Coming Back to the New York Islanders?

Dee KarlSenior Analyst IFebruary 19, 2008

Prompted by the Leafs Notes article I read this morning in the Bleacher Report by Derek Harmsworth, I began to think long and hard about this year's trade deadline. 

For those of you who don't know me, I am about the biggest Jason Blake fan in the hockey universe. 

It all started when he first came to the Islanders and my husband and I argued over what his potential was. 

I saw a spark in him that I hadn't seen before, he saw a "good" hockey player who would never amount to much. 

I'm usually never wrong, and I set out to prove it.

I became Jason Blake's unofficial, non-sanctioned, un-paid PR agent on Long Island—a completely thankless job that I toiled at constantly.  I needed to prove to my Dynasty Die-Hard husband that I DID have a clue when it came to quality, and prove to myself that what I saw in him was real.

That being said, every year when trade deadline would roll around, I would head into panic mode.  "Don't Trade HIM!  You CAN'T trade him! He needs to stay with the Islanders."  I would begin my "Jason Blake Stays" campaign usually by late January.  Mike Milbury dreaded my emails.  "Always a pleasure to hear from you Dee." was the response to my messages pleading his case.

Last year at this time, Milbury told me to "go bark at Garth!" as he was no longer in charge of these things.  I knew something was wrong when my emails to Garth (usually a gracious man) went unanswered.  All was not quiet on the Uniondale front as Blake pleaded his own case to the local media.  

Snow, as a first year GM, didn't like being painted into a corner and voiced his displeasure with the situation.  He had bigger fish to fry anyway, and by the skin of his teeth, Blake avoided being traded at the last minute.  I knew he was safe till the end of the season, but I could see that something had changed. 

Garth was not the friend and confidant that Mike Milbury had become to Jason Blake, a relationship I personally watched develop over the years he was here.  They would go off to the sidelines to chat during practice, they would laugh together, they were relaxed.

When Mike Milbury stepped down as GM and moved to the front office, Jason was visibly upset and made no bones about telling the media how he felt; something he can't help as he wears his emotions like sunglasses. He had loyalty to Mike Milbury, he credited him with giving him a chance that he took full advantage of.  Things were never the same after he stepped down.

Snow heard from me again over the summer urging him to find a way to come to terms with the little Energizer Bunny.  But Blake was not "in the game plan" for the Islanders, and all my facts, figures and pleading did nothing to sway the organization.  Garth is a man of conviction.  He made a decision, and he stuck to it.  This is the type of man he is, and I respect him for it.  I may not like it, but I certainly respect him.

So how did I feel this morning reading Mr. Harmsworth's article about Fletcher trying to package McCabe and Blake back to the Island?  Stunned.  Beside myself.  Heartsick.  Stunned because I never would have expected it to even be presented.  Beside myself because I shudder to think what he was looking for in return, and heartsick for Jason's sake.  I know he is not happy with the choice he has made.  You can see it in his face.  But we live and die with our choices, especially $10 million choices.

The trade deadline I thought wouldn't bother me at all is now bothering me in a different way.  As much as I would love to see Jason Blake out of a Leafs sweater, I can't see giving up the likes of Okposo to make that happen.  I also would not want to lose the likes of Sean Bergenheim now that he is finally turning into the hockey player I knew he could be.  Tambellini perhaps?  Maybe, but once the kid puts on a few pounds, he too will be even better.  Is Fletcher looking for something from our Sound Tiger squad?  I don't know.  I tried to find out, but to no avail. 

Here I am, in panic mode once again, but for a different reason.  I'm sorry Jason, I would do just about anything to help you because I still believe in your talent.  If you need a bone marrow transplant, I'll be the first one on line to be tested.  But to come back to the Island now, and at what cost, I don't know if even I could justify it.  But I'll be here for you, should you need me.

Yeah...I hate this part of the movie.   Someone wake me up when it's over.