10 NHL Superstar Players and Their Most Forgettable Career Moves
NHL players and the management groups that employ them are as human as anybody else, thus they cannot always foresee a poor transaction. Those parties are especially difficult to blame when the player in question constitutes a high-quality commodity and all is good with his current state of affairs.
Nonetheless, once it is in effect, a bad move is just that and everyone would just as soon repeal it.
Management makes trades and pens contracts while players choose to accept a trade, change uniforms via free agency or keep things status quo. Sometimes, the new acquisition fails to mesh correctly with his new team or, whether he stays with one organization or goes elsewhere, a player's talent suddenly erodes.
Here are 10 Hockey Hall of Fame-caliber players―whether they are already inducted or should be in the not-too-distant future―who had at least one particularly vinegary period in an otherwise delectable career.
Andreychuk had scored 20 goals in each of the four seasons leading up to that banner year and subsequent work stoppage. Having sat out of hockey altogether that season, his age of 42 inevitably showed when he mustered only 42 games played and 18 points in 2005-06.
Like Andreychuk, Chelios had a chance to let the ultimate fulfillment be his swan song when he won his third career Cup with the Detroit Red Wings in 2008. He had played 69 regular-season and 14 playoff games that season at the age of 46.
Although he was scratched for the Cup final against Pittsburgh, he still could have quit while he was ahead. Instead, he persisted and ended up splitting two more seasons between the NHL and AHL halves of the Detroit and Atlanta franchises.
Sure, Chelios was understandably pursuing his passion as long as humanly possible, but it had to be a pain for Red Wings fans, who would have preferred to just remember the Chelios of the earlier 2000s. Ditto for fans in Chicago, who were subject to seeing a washed-up Chelios in a Wolves uniform so long after he was racking up Norris Trophies in a Blackhawks jersey.
Only once in any of his NHL seasons did Fuhr retain an average of more than four opposing goals per night. He split the 1994-95 campaign between Buffalo and Los Angeles, posting a 4.00 and 4.04 goals-against average with those two franchises, respectively.
Granted, it was a shorter season and a smaller window, but Fuhr also accumulated a forgettable 2-9-3 record, including a 1-7-3 transcript in his 14-game stint with the Kings. He readily restored his old form after a summer transfer to St. Louis, keeping his GAA below 3.00 in each of his four campaigns with the Blues.
With this being Gretzky when he still had flair, his stint in St. Louis at the tail end of the 1995-96 season had no true blemishes in terms of performance. He played a total of 31 games between the regular-season homestretch and the playoffs, charging up a cumulative 27 assists and 37 points in that span.
However, his relationship with the coaching staff and front office seemed to sour at the slightest slip-up. Gretzky moved on to the Rangers in the summer of 1996 and, at the time of that move, Sports Illustrated's E.M. Swift delved into one of the reasons why.
Gretzky said the following to Swift on Blues coach Mike Keenan and the higher-ups blaming him for a single-game loss in the playoffs:
"I could handle that. That's part of his responsibility as coach, to motivate guys. But that same night, Jack Quinn, the team president, called my agent, Mike Barnett, and took the Blues' contract offer [a reported $21 million for three years] off the table. The money had already been agreed to. We were just discussing the length of the deferred payments and the interest. You want to play for people who believe in you. If that's all the faith they had in me-to take a deal off the table after one bad game-right then I decided I would never sign with the Blues, which I'd had every intention of doing. Heck, I'd already put down $9,000 for four season tickets to the Cardinals."
What was the deal with star athletes answering to the first name "Brett," who made strange uniform changes and retirement decisions in the latter half of the last calendar decade?
Hull went to the Phoenix Coyotes, the reincarnation of the Winnipeg franchise his father helped to launch, at the start of the post-lockout era in 2005-06. Yet he cut off his Coyotes gig and his career at the five-game mark, retiring in mid-October 2005.
At the age of 31, Lindsay hit a new career high with 85 points in the 1956-57 season. But the career-long Red Wing, however unfairly, brought on a breakup with the franchise when his movement to create the NHLPA incensed general manager Jack Adams.
That summer, Lindsay was exported to Chicago, where his production plummeted to 39 points in 1957-58. In two more seasons with the Blackhawks, he never restored the same scoring rate he had boasted during his glory years in the Motor City.
Between his unceremonious departure from Detroit and his drop-off on the ice with the Blackhawks, Lindsay's move was nothing short of a cheap, two-handed cross-check to his NHL diary.
Morenz never belonged anywhere but Montreal, plain and simple.
After more than a decade of prolific seasons with the Canadiens, Morenz was swapped out to Chicago in 1934. His output there was relatively irreproachable, but he hit a new low after a midseason trade to the Rangers in 1935-36. He mustered all of two goals and six points in 19 games with the Blueshirts.
Upon returning to the Habs the next season, Morenz proved that he was not on the decline by turning his production rate back in the right direction with 20 points in 30 appearances. Tragically, that 30th game of his 1936-37 season was his last as he sustained a broken leg and died of heart failure while hospitalized less than six weeks later.
There were absolutely no winners when Orr transferred from the Bruins to the Blackhawks. His old employer took a PR plunge and his new club did not get much out of him statistically, nor did his new fanbase receive much from him visually.
Granted, he still averaged a little more than a point per game with the Hawks, but his game log was not long enough for it to amount to a substantive impact.
Orr wore the Chicago uniform for 20 games in 1976-77, zero in 1977-78 and six in 1978-79, after which he accepted that nagging knee ailments had caught up with him, ending his career.
At the age of 33, Selanne drew inevitable speculation that he was on a premature decline during his lone season with the Colorado Avalanche. The longtime fan favorite in Anaheim was coming off two-plus irreproachable seasons in San Jose, yet charged up a career-low log of 16-16-32 in 78 games with Colorado.
The next season was abolished by the 2004-05 lockout, after which the old Selanne re-emerged, once again in a Mighty Ducks uniform. He buried the memories of his Avalanche debacle with his first 90-point campaign in seven years and, at age 42, most recently led the Ducks with 66 points in 2011-12.
A change of scenery hardly helped Sundin's search for a sweeter swan song after he brooked three straight playoff no-shows with the Maple Leafs.
In his final year as the face of the Leafs, Sundin tallied team-leading numbers across the line with 32 goals, 78 points and a plus-17 rating. Yet somehow, after he signed with a playoff-bound team in Vancouver in December 2008, he mustered a 9-19-28 log and a minus-five rating in 41 games played.
Rust may have been a partial culprit, but with the supporting cast he had on the Canucks, Sundin should have had a better close to his career