NHL: Most Disappointing Acquisition Ever for Each NHL Team
Every NHL team makes new acquisitions every year. Not all of those moves work out. Whether it's drafting the next can't miss prospect or signing the grizzled general manager who is going get your team on the winning track, there is never any guarantee of success.
This slideshow is an attempt to catalogue the single worst acquisition each NHL team has made in its history. I'm going to miss some. Most are going to be open to debate. Hopefully on a few you will even agree with me.
I'd love to hear from any readers about what they believe is the worst acquisition that their favourite team has ever made and why.
1. Anaheim Ducks: The Moniker "Mighty"
The success that Wayne Gretzky had in popularizing hockey in California lead to a wave of NHL expansion in the 1990's. One of those franchises was granted in 1993 to the Disney corporation. They had the funds needed to successfully run a sports franchise and have proved to be one of the better franchises granted in the decade.
Disney had a vision for the Ducks which included marketing to children and families. They hoped to reap benefits by cross-marketing the team.
Part of that campaign involved naming the team after an insipid Disney family film, "The Mighty Ducks." There was a Mighty Duck children's cartoon produced. Numerous ugly sweaters and toys were produced. Some of them might have even been sold.
If Honda had bought that NHL team would they have allowed to call them the Anaheim Accords? Apparently.
The NHL and Disney saw each other as a way to sell more of their product. They weren't entirely successful. The Mighty Duck name was an embarrassing one for any professional sports team to have in its history.
Still, Disney was a good owner. They spent money and built a talented club.
When the team was sold by Disney in 2005, the team stopped being a shill for successively worse Disney films and became the Anaheim Ducks. Under the new name, the team made it to the Western Conference Finals. The next year, the Anaheim Ducks won the Stanley Cup and joined the Tampa Bay Lightning as the only post-1990 expansion team to do so.
The Mighty Duck name, however, was the worst name of any NHL franchise and the worst acquisition in team history.
2. Atlanta Thrashers: Alexei Zhitnik, D
The Atlanta Thrashers have had very little success to speak of since they joined the NHL more than a decade ago. They've made more than their share of bad trades and draft picks—Patrick Stefan comes to mind. Still, I think the acquisition of Alexei Zhitnik has to have been one of the most disappointing in Thrasher history.
The 2006-07 season saw them win their division and become the third seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs that year. At the trade deadline the Thrashers decided to add a veteran rental player in order to help them into the playoffs.
The team traded former first 2003 pick Braydon Coburn (No. 8 overall) to the Philadelphia Flyers. Braydon has been a key member of a tight Philadelphia defense ever since.
Atlanta got a 34-year-old offensive defenseman in return. He had been a half-point-a-game player in his time, but was no longer.
Alexei Zhitnik actually had a great run up until the playoffs in Atlanta. He had 14 points in 18 games for the Thrashers and did help them win the Southeast division.
Unfortunately, the team wasn't ready yet for success in the playoffs. The sixth seed New York Rangers handled the Thrashers easily, sweeping them in four quick games. Zhitnik never scored a point. The Thrashers had traded away their future and reaped little in the way of playoff success.
Zhitnik played one more season for Atlanta producing a miserable eight points in 65 games. The Thrashers haven't been back to the playoffs since, while Coburn is happily contributing on a first place Flyer team. Alexei Zhitnik is playing for Moscow Dynamo of the KHL.
3. Boston Bruins: Martin Lapointe, RW
The Boston Bruins have competed in the NHL since 1924. One of the league's oldest franchises, they've certainly gone through more than their fair share of bad times. They missed the playoffs for eight straight years in the 60s. For the most disappointing acquisition in team history though, I'm going to pick something from the recent past.
Martin Lapointe of the Detroit Red Wings had gotten a reputation as one of the best checking wingers in the NHL. He had been a key member of two of Detroit's cup-winning teams. During the 2000-01 season he had career best offensive totals as a 28-year-old. He scored 27 goals and had 57 points in 82 games.
Boston Bruin ownership at the time was notoriously cheap. Apparently, a dispute with Detroit owner Mike Ilitch led the Bruins to overpay for the veteran checker, just so the Red Wings couldn't have him.
Lapointe was signed by the Bruins for four years at $5.5 million a year in 2001. The contract was ludicrous. Martin Lapointe had no choice but to disappoint because he simply wasn't a five-and-a-half million dollar player. He played three years with the Bruins, missing 41 games. His best season in Boston saw him score 17 goals and get 43 points.
Expectations in Boston were sky high and there was huge disappointment when Lapointe couldn't deliver on them. He went on after the lockout to play for Chicago at a more reasonable salary.
Lapointe's presence and contract in Boston upset the salary structure. The team never got beyond the first round of the playoffs while he was there. Detroit, on the other hand, won the Stanley Cup in 2001-02.
4. Buffalo Sabres: The Slug
The Buffalo Sabres, at their inception, had one of the NHL's better looking hockey sweaters. Yet, in 2006 they decided to acquire a new jersey, one which has a logo reminiscent of a Banana slug. It's just about the most miserable thing the Sabres have added to their team in their 40-year history.
The slug spawned Internet petitions with 30,000 signatures and even blog names. http://www.sabresnotslugs.blogspot.com/
Luckily the slug logo seems to have gone the way of the dodo, the "Mighty" in Mighty Ducks and the California Golden Seals. Hopefully it will never get resurrected in some sort of misguided retro craze.
5. Calgary Flames: Ruslan Zainullin, C
There have been a lot of players over the years that the Calgary Flames have added to the roster that have been huge disappointments. Andrei Nazarov, who came over in the trade for Michael Nylander, comes to mind.
First round draft pick Brent Krahn was a Calgary-based goalie picked in 2000 (No. 9 overall) in a year when the Flames desperately needed offense. So far, the often injured Krahn has played one NHL game and that was with the Dallas Stars.
Sergei Priakin was the first Soviet player released to come play in North America. It soon became apparent why the Soviet Union was happy to let him go. He was no Sergei Makarov. He played in 50 regular season games for the Flames, scoring four goals and earning nine assists.
The most disappointing player the Calgary Flames ever acquired however, was Russian center Ruslan Zainullin. He had been a promising under-18 international player, and was selected in the second round by the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2000 (34th overall).
Come 2002, Zainullin's rights had already been traded to Phoenix and then Atlanta.
Flames GM Craig Button had picked up a young center from the New York Rangers a couple years before named Marc Savard. He had been one of the best offensive players on some bad Flames' teams. The Flames were, however, in cost-cutting mode, so Savard had been demoted to the fourth line. Then, while the team was claiming Savard had a "bad attitude," they traded him to Atlanta for the rights to the aforementioned Zanuillin.
That move by Button certainly saved the Flames some salary dollars because Zainullin never played in North America.
Year after year, the Flames desperately search for a talented playmaking center to team up with Jarome Iginla. Meanwhile, Marc Savard developed into one of the best playmaking centers in the game. He became a point-a-game player in Atlanta, topping out with 97 points in 2005-06. He then went on to do the same with the Boston Bruins while the Flames continue to search for that center.
6. Carolina Hurricanes: Sergei Samsonov, LW
The highly talented Sergei Samsonov was the Boston Bruins' first round pick in 1997 (No. 8 overall). He had good years in Boston, especially when on a line with Joe Thornton. He flirted with being a point-a-game player in 2001 and 2002. He missed most of the next season with a wrist injury and hasn't really been the same player since.
Samsonov bounced from the Bruins to the Oilers to the Canadiens to the Blackhawks and finally to the Hurricanes. He managed 14 goals and 32 points in 38 games while trying out with the Hurricanes. Unfortunately, once he signed a three-year contract with Carolina, his drive vanished and he reverted to being a half-point-a-game player or worse.
Samsonov has been a disappointment to a lot of teams since he had that first big injury. The last team he disappointed was Carolina, who let him go to division rival Florida for big defender Bryan Allen. The move looks like a salary dump for Florida, as they continue to clear out veterans. The UFA Samsonov is going to have to impress someone to get a new contract next year. The 26 points he has in 58 games so far isn't going to do it.
7. Chicago Blackhawks: Godfrey Matheson, Coach
The original head of the group that brought the Chicago Blackhawks into the NHL was Major Frederic McLaughlin. He headed a consortium that bought the Portland Rosebuds of the failing Pacific Coast Hockey League and rechristened them as the Blackhawks in Chicago.
The Major was the team's first president and eventually became the majority owner. As owner, Major McLaughlin was a meddler. In his first 10 years in the league, he hired and fired 11 coaches. The worst of those was Godfrey Matheson, my choice for the worst acquisition in Chicago's long history.
Major McLaughlin met his new coach in 1932 while traveling on a train from Minneapolis to Chicago. The two started talking and it turned out Godfrey was from Winnipeg. Winnipeg was the hometown of Chicago's great goalie Charlie Gardiner. This apparently, along with the rapport they'd established, was enough to get Godfrey hired as the Blackhawks' head coach.
Come time for fall training for 1932-33 and the Blackhawk players were confronted with a new coach. He appeared ready for action with elbow pads over his suit coat and two buckets of pucks—but no skates.
The innovative Matheson replaced his fellow Winnipegger in net with a stuffed dummy for practice in order to avoid injury to the team's star. How Charlie Gardiner was supposed to practice was never established.
Godfrey Matheson had a unique view of NHL offense. He had his small quick forwards throwing themselves at opposition defenders while dropping the puck to their ponderous defenseman. The theory was they would clear the way for the following defensemen who would have a clear shot at the nets. Unfortunately, while the tiny forward was getting checked into the ice, the plodding Chicago defensemen were usually losing the puck. They seldom got a shot off.
Godfrey lasted two whole games, with the Blackhawks losing them both.
Luckily he was replaced with a real coach, Tommy Gorman, who would lead Chicago to their first Stanley Cup victory in the 1933-34 season.
8. Columbus Blue Jackets: Nikita Filatov, LW
The Columbus Blue Jackets have had more than their share of disappointing high draft picks in their short history. For every Rick Nash and Jacob Voracek, there seems to be a score of Rostislav Klesla's, Gilbert Brule's and Nikolai Zherdev's. Despite multiple high draft picks over the last 10 years, the team has made very little progress towards becoming a consistent NHL playoff team.
The team's first round pick from 2008 (No. 6 overall), Nikita Filatov, is threatening to become the worst disappointment in Blue Jacket history.
Filatov came to the league English-ready and NHL-friendly. During his draft year, it was thought he would be a Russian who would make the transition to North America seamlessly. Instead, he struggled under Jacket coach Ken Hitchcock and returned to Russia to play in the KHL. Hitchcock's inability to get along with his young potential star was probably one of the main reasons the only coach in Columbus history to take the team to the playoffs was fired.
The young, talented Filatov had yet to make the big team roster and already he was a coach killer. He has managed to be a reasonable player at the AHL level, but 15 goals and 37 points in 52 AHL games isn't really impressing anyone. He has to undergo considerable development to become a useful NHL player and this has to be a huge disappointment for the Blue Jackets and their fans, who were counting on having Nikita Filatov's offense in the lineup by now.
9. Colorado Avalanche: Jordan Leopold, D
The Colorado Avalanche won a Stanley Cup in their first year in Denver. The groundwork laid by the ill-fated Quebec Nordiques paid off for the newly-minted Avalanche.
Colorado has suffered less hardship than almost any NHL franchise I can think of. In the 15 complete seasons since moving to Colorado, they have only missed the playoffs twice. They won two cups and finished first in their division the first eight years they have been in the Western Conference.
Most Colorado Avalanche acquisitions turn out well. It's a stretch to find a disappointing Colorado Avalanche acquisition, but I'm going with Jordan Leopold.
The Avalanche traded the rights to restricted free agent Alex Tanguay to the Calgary Flames for offensive defenseman Jordan Leopold. Tanguay had 78 points in 71 games with Colorado when they traded him and he went on to have a career best 81 points in 81 games with the Flames the next year.
Leopold, on the other hand, played parts of three seasons in Colorado. His defensive liabilities were never overcome by any sort of significant offensive production. His best year in Colorado saw him score six goals and 20 points in 64 games before they traded him back to the Flames.
10. Dallas Stars: Patrik Stefan, C
The acquisition of Patrik Stefan probably isn't the worst deal the Stars ever made.
He was a player who was one of the best young hockey players I've ever seen. After some success at the World Junior tournament in 1998, he was picked first overall by the Atlanta Thrashers in 1999.
He struggled with injuries, even when healthy at the AHL and NHL level. His best season in Atlanta was his only complete one in 2003-04, when he scored 14 goals and 40 points.
When the Dallas Stars traded for Stefan in 2006, they gave up Niko Kapanen and a seventh round pick and picked up Jaroslav Modry to go with them. They obviously didn't expect the world from Stefan, but they must have hoped to unlock the skill that got him taken first overall originally. Instead, they got half a season, five goals and 11 points and the video you see above. That had to be a huge disappointment to the Stars.
11. Detroit Red Wings: Marc Reaume, D
Detroit is another of the original six franchises and they have the long illustrious history to go with it. The Red Wings have won the most Stanley Cups of any U.S.-based NHL franchise with 11, and are crowding the Toronto Maple Leafs for second overall in the entire league behind the Montreal Canadiens.
They have had their share of success. When you run a team as long as they have, there are a long list of mistakes to go with it though.
Jack Adams started as the Detroit Cougar GM and coach back in 1930. He established a farm system that kept the team prospect rich for decades.
He was infamous for trading Ted Lindsay away to punish him for attempting to start a player's union in the NHL. He dumped his brilliant young goalie Glenn Hall off to the Chicago Blackhawks at around the same time.
The worst trade he made though was to get rid of another union-friendly player, Leonard "Red" Kelly.
Kelly had an off-year with the Red Wings in 1958-59. He was criticized and fined the next year by former teammate and coach Sid Abel for his bad play.
As Kelly explained to hockey reporter Trent Frayne, his play had suffered because the previous year management had asked him to play with a wrapped broken ankle. He was just recovering now, a year later. He'd kept quiet about playing with the injury, but really hadn't expected to be fined when his play suffered as a consequence.
The story made the papers and "Jolly" Jack Adams was furious. He denied everything and then tried to trade Kelly to the Rangers. Kelly refused to report, saying he would take a real job first. Adams finally dealt Kelly to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The Leafs transformed Kelly from defenseman to checking center, and he helped the Leafs to four Stanley Cup victories in his seven-and-a-half seasons in Toronto. "Red" Kelly had 119 goals and 232 assists with the Leafs. He became famous for the checking job he did on Montreal Canadiens first line center Jean Beliveau.
The player "Red" Kelly was traded for? It was Marc Reaume. Adams claimed at the time he was happy to trade for Reaume because he was a defenseman who was seven years Kelly's junior.
Marc Reaume managed to get in two seasons with the Leafs, playing 47 games before he slipped back to the minor leagues never to return. He had a total of two assists as a Detroit Red Wing.
12. Edmonton Oilers: Jimmy Carson, C
Through no fault of his own, Jimmy Carson is the most disappointing acquisition in Edmonton Oiler history. The Michigan born kid had a great career in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. He was an automatic scoring sensation when he joined the LA Kings for the 1986-87 season, after being selected second overall in the previous summer's amateur draft.
Carson scored 37 goals and 79 points in his first season as a King and followed that up with 55 goals and 107 points the next year, to be the eighth leading scorer in the league.
Carson was unfortunately the principle player coming back to Edmonton in the hockey trade of the century when Wayne Gretzky was given up by the Oilers to the LA Kings.
Carson had been a great scorer in the NHL to date, but he was no "Great One." His first year in Edmonton, he had 49 goals and 100 points, but the Oilers, who cruised through the Stanley Cup Finals the year before, lost in the first round of the playoffs to the Calgary Flames.
Carson was traded to Detroit next season and injuries hampered him from then on. He never again attained the statistical heights he had reached in his first three years in the league. Part of that was due to injury, but you have to think part of it was being expected to replace the greatest player in the history of the game.
13. Florida Panthers: Todd Bertuzzi, LW
Hulking power forward Todd Bertuzzi was out of favour in Vancouver as a consequence of his attack on Colorado Avalanche player Steve Moore. His play had suffered.
On June 23rd, 2006, Bertuzzi, defenseman Bryan Allen and backup goalie Alex Auld, were traded to the Florida Panthers for goalie Roberto Luongo, Lucas Krajicek and a draft pick who became Sergei Shirokov. This has often been called one of the worst trades in NHL history.
He played in only seven games as a Panther before a back problem sidelined him for surgery. He was out three months with the surgery and was then traded to Detroit.
The Panthers got seven points out of him while Luongo has played five quality seasons in Vancouver as the starting goalie.
14. Los Angeles Kings: Billy Harris
On trade deadline day in 1980, the LA Kings traded their No. 2 center Butch Goring to the New York Islanders for Billy Harris and Dave Lewis. Harris was expected to provide secondary scoring in Los Angeles. Unfortunately, with Goring gone, there was no center in LA for Harris to play with.
Goring went on to help the Islanders win four cups in a row, in a period of time where Harris and the Kings won a total of one playoff series.
Billy Harris only played 107 games in three years in LA, scoring 25 goals and getting 60 points. Butch Goring played six years with the Islanders, winning four Stanley Cups and a Conn Smythe trophy in 1981 as the MVP in the NHL playoffs.
15. Minnesota Wild: Benoit Pouliot, LW
The Minnesota Wild have had a pretty good record of drafting talent. Starting with Marion Gaborik, there have been a large number of quality players the Wild have brought into the NHL.
Benoit Pouliot was not one of those players. A strong skater with good size, Pouliot was projected as a can't miss prospect back in 2005. The Wild took him fourth overall, but he missed. Minnesota gave Benoit parts of four NHL seasons to find his place on the team. In 75 games for the Wild, he scored only nine goals. Pouliot hadn't managed to succeed at the AHL level either.
In desperation, Minnesota traded him for another underperforming first round draft pick, Guillaume Latendresse of the Montreal Canadiens. Both players have been better for their new teams.
16. Montreal Canadiens: Dave Gardner, C
The Montreal Canadiens spent the years after the doubling of the NHL to 12 teams in 1967, sopping up expansion team draft picks and tossing those teams over-the-hill veterans in exchange. That at least was the master plan. It didn't always work.
The Canadiens picked up the Minnesota North Star first round pick in 1972 for prospect Danny Grant, veteran Claude Larose and future considerations. Some have even called this one of the worst trades in Montreal Canadiens history. http://bleacherreport.com/articles/617992-twelve-worst-trades-in-montreal-canadiens-history/page/9
Danny Grant went on to be a quality NHL scorer in Minnesota. He was Rookie of the Year for them in 1968-69. He scored more than 30 goals in a season three times for the North Stars. He was a 50-goal scorer for Detroit during the 1974-75 season.
Dave Gardner became one of the Habs' first round picks in 1972 (No. 8 overall). Gardner lasted two seasons in Montreal, playing in 36 games and scoring twice. He was certainly one of the most disappointing acquisitions in Montreal Canadiens' history.
17. Nashville Predators: Alexander Radulov
The Nashville Predators have shown an ability to draft almost an inexhaustible supply of young talent. They have produced a number of fast, excellent, quality, young teams with good defense and first rate goaltending. Unfortunately, they have been reluctant to spend money to retain the players they draft and develop, or to sign free agents to help them reach the next level.
The Predators have made the NHL playoffs five of the last six years, despite playing in the toughest division in hockey. They have never won a series though.
When they drafted Alexander Radulov in the first round in 2004 (15th), it seemed they may have found a transcendent offensive player to help them make it to that next level.
Radulov spent two years developing in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey league. His last year there saw him score 61 goals and 152 points in 62 games. He graduated to the professional leagues. His last year in Nashville saw him score 26 goals and 58 points in 81 games. In the playoffs, he was a useful offensive force with two goals and four points in a six-game loss to the Detroit Red Wings.
While still under contract to the Predators, Radulov defected back to Russia, signing a contract with Ufa of the KHL. Theoretically, if he ever returned to the NHL he would owe the Predators another season of hockey. His leaving was a step back for Nashville, who finished last in the Central and missed the playoffs in the first year he was gone.
The drafting of Radulov has proven to be a huge disappointment in Nashville precisely because he looked to have so much potential.
18. New Jersey Devils: Rocky Trottier
The New Jersey Devils were not always the successful organization you see today. They were the remnants of the old Colorado Rockies/Kansas City Scouts franchise. Wayne Gretzky called them a "Mickey Mouse organization" that was an embarrassment to the league, after the Oilers came into town and beat the Devils 13-4 back in the early 1980's.
Rocky Trottier was the team's first amateur draft pick after they moved to New Jersey in 1982 (No. 8 overall).
Brother of NHL star and Stanley Cup champion Bryan Trottier (pictured above), Rocky never had the skill of his older brother. He played a mere 38 games in the NHL for the Devils. The only two first round picks in 1982 to play fewer games in the NHL than Trottier were Montreal's Alain Heroux (0) and Edmonton's Jim Playfair (21).
The Devils could have taken Dave Andreychuk, Michel Petit, Murray Craven, Pat Flatley, Gary Leeman or Tomas Sandstrom, to name a few that year. Trottier was a huge disappointment in Jersey and a sure sign things weren't getting better in a hurry.
19. New York Islanders: Alexei Yashin
The New York Islanders have had a frighteningly large number of disappointing acquisitions. This is despite the fact that Bill Torrey was one of the finest GM's in hockey history, who guided the team for the first 20 years of their existence (1972-92).
Since that time, the Islanders have suffered through some of the most pathologically nihilistic ownership and management teams that I've seen in any professional sports organization. The nadir of that was of course during the reign of "Mad" Mike Milbury (1995-2006).
The worst deal, perhaps ever, occurred when Milbury traded Zdeno Chara, Bill Muckalt and a first round pick, which turned into Jason Spezza, for disgruntled Senator center Alexei Yashin back in 2001.
Mike Milbury compounded the insanity by immediately signing him to a 10-year, $87.5 million contract. Yashin never really performed up to expectations for the Islanders, and he was eventually bought out of his contract with New York.
Yashin is currently being paid by the Islanders. This year, he's making $4.755 million and as such, is the highest paid player on the team. He is still owed $2.2 million a year for the next four years. Now that's a disappointment!!
20. New York Rangers: Glen Sather
In the year 2000, Glen Sather joined the New York Rangers as President and General Manager. He brought with him legendary status for his association with Oiler teams of the 1980's that he coached and managed.
Glen was a hockey guy who was supposed to bring championships to New York in a hurry. Unfortunately, he has shown a penchant for bringing in veteran players at the end of their careers and paying too much for them. In 2002, he signed Darius Kasparitis to a six-year, $25.5 million deal and checking center Bobby Holik to a five-year, $45 million deal.
Despite having all this money to spend, Glen couldn't put together a winning team. With the arrival of the cap era, his big contracts became organizational millstones.
A lot of his energy in the last two years has gone into figuring out what to do with big contracts to the likes of Michal Roszival, Chris Drury, Markus Naslund, Scott Gomez and Wade Redden. To his credit, and to the New York Rangers ownership's credit, he's managed to solve most of those problems. He's finally beginning to look like he knows how to operate in a salary cap world.
I'm sure no Ranger fans had assumed when he was hired that Sather would need a decade to "begin" the building process.
21. Ottawa Senators: Alexander Daigle
When Alexandre Daigle was taken in 1993 as the first player overall in the NHL amateur draft, he was expected to help propel the Senators to the playoffs. He signed an unheard of contract for a rookie, $12.25 million for five years. Fans were sure that in a few short years, Daigle would lead Ottawa to a cup win.
Daigle's contract lead to a holdout by Alexei Yashin in 1995. Yashin had been the first round pick of the Senators the year before Daigle was taken and was outperforming him considerably.
Alexandre Daigle proved to be a mediocre forward. Not fast enough, not tough enough and not skilled enough, he was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers in 1997 for Vaclav Prospal and Pat Falloon.
Daigle was out of hockey at age 25. He made a comeback after a failed attempt at becoming an actor. He managed a good season with the Minnesota Wild where he had 20 goals in 78 games. He has since left the NHL to play hockey in Switzerland.
22. Philadelphia Flyers: Peter Forsberg, C
Sometimes a team's worst mistakes come as they desperately try to right mistakes they made in the past. The Flyers initially drafted Peter Forsberg in 1992, but when Eric Lindros refused to report to Quebec, the Flyers traded Forsberg, Chris Simon, Ron Hextall, Steve Duchesne, Mike Ricci and Jocelyn Thibault, plus $15 million for Eric Lindros.
Lindros helped the Flyers be a dominant team for years but Forsberg and company won a couple of Stanley Cups for the Colorado Avalanche.
Come the salary cap era in 2005, Forsberg was signed again by the Philadelphia Flyers. He was going to make up for those cups the Flyers missed when they let him go the first time. Forsberg had a good first season in Philly, though he missed more than 20 games due to injury. They lost though, in the first round of the playoffs.
The Flyers had gotten Forsberg too late in his career. His bad foot kept him from playing for anyone for any length of time. By the time Philadelphia got Peter Forsberg he was no longer able to stay healthy enough to contribute at the NHL level.
23. Phoenix Coyotes: Jobing.com Arena
The Phoenix Coyotes began their life in Arizona playing out of the America West Arena. The problems with attendance there were thought to be as a result of playing in a building designed for basketball and ill-suited for hockey.
The move to Glendale in 2003, into their own building, was touted by ownership at the time as the path to financial stability. Unfortunately, their lack of regular season success and a dearth of hockey interest in Phoenix seemed to trump the new building. Despite being a playoff team last year and having a good record this season, the Coyotes are 29th in attendance (11,626 people per game) ahead of only the New York Islanders.
This acquisition hasn't lived up to expectations. If the Coyotes manage to bankrupt the community of Glendale in the bargain, it will be some sort of professional sports record.
24. Pittsburgh Penguins: Orest Kindrachuk, C
The Pittsburgh Penguins are, along with the Philadelphia Flyers, one of the two most successful of the franchises that made up the second six teams that joined the "Original Six" in 1967. They have won three Stanley Cups while drafting some of the best young talent in NHL history. Mario Lemieux, Jaromir Jagr, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are all former first round amateur picks by the Pittsburgh Penguins. It wasn't always so.
During the 1970's the Penguins were notorious for trading their first rounders away for a veteran player, an old hockey net and a bag of magic beans. In fact, in the first 13 years the team was in the league (1967-79), they only made seven first round picks. Pierre Larouche and Blaine Stoughton were the best of those seven. It wasn't until the 1980's that the Penguins finally changed their philosophy, and their fortunes, when they started keeping their first round picks. They hit gold when they drafted Mario Lemieux in 1984.
Orest Kindrachuk certainly isn't the worst veteran player the Penguins had ever traded for. The player the Flyers drafted in Pittsburgh's place, Behn Wilson, wasn't a franchise player. However, Kindrachuk was symbolic of the numerous disappointing deals the Penguins were making at this time in their history.
Orest came over to Pittsburgh in 1978, a solid checking forward who could score and kill penalties. He and Ross Lonsberry and Tom Bladon were traded for Behn Wilson. Kindrachuk played three years in Pittsburgh and then his career ended in 1981-82 after four games with the Washington Capitals.
Behn Wilson stepped into the lineup in Philadelphia as an offensive defenseman, playing 80 games and scoring 49 points. He lasted five years in Philadelphia with a career best 16 goals and 63 points in 1980-81. He then went on to play four seasons for the Chicago Blackhawks.
At that point in time, the entire Penguins' philosophy of acquisition was disappointing and almost led to the collapse of the franchise in Pittsburgh.
25. San Jose Sharks: Brian Campbell, D
At the trade deadline back in 2008, the San Jose Sharks gave up on former 2003 first round pick Steve Bernier (16th overall) and their first round pick, which became young, quick center Tyler Ennis. Campbell played well for San Jose. He had 19 points in 20 regular season games, helping the Sharks finish second overall in the regular season. He had seven points in 13 playoff games as the Sharks beat the Calgary Flames in a tough seven-game first round series, and then lost to the Dallas Stars in the second round.
Unfortunately for the Sharks, they lost a bidding war for Campbell's services to Dale Tallon and the Chicago Blackhawks. The Blackhawks finally managed to parlay Campbell into a Stanley Cup victory—something the Sharks had reached for and missed.
The Sharks, meanwhile by missing out on the cup, got on the treadmill as they desperately traded away young talent and draft picks in order to win "their" cup. They gave up Matt Carle, Ty Wishart and a first round pick to acquire Dan Boyle. Craig Rivet who they'd acquired by trading away Canadien regulars Josh Gorges and Max Pacioretty, was traded to Buffalo in an attempt to recoup some of the draft picks they'd lost over the years.
The San Jose Sharks are in a desperate spot, like the Calgary Flames and Toronto Maple Leafs before them, a veteran team with a rapidly closing window to try to win a Stanley Cup. If they don't win one soon, a complete rebuild will be coming. This was all started by the disappointing result that came with their acquisition of Brian Campbell back in 2008.
26. St. Louis Blues: Eddy Beers, RW
The St. Louis Blues have made a few troubling acquisitions in their time. They signed Brendan Shanahan from the New Jersey Devils back in 1991 as a test of the NHL's nascent free-agent policy at the time. NHL arbitrators chose St. Louis Blues captain Scott Stevens as proper compensation for the departed Shanahan. This punitive arbitration killed any attempt to make free-agent signings in the NHL and was a contributing factor to the1994 NHL lockout.
When Doug Gilmour got in trouble with the law in St. Louis, they moved him to the Calgary Flames, where he helped them win their Stanley Cup in 1989.
The most disappointing acquisition in St. Louis Blues' history though, had to come on Feb 1, 1986 when they traded sniper Joey Mullen to the Flames for Eddy Beers, Charlie Bourgeois and Gino Cavallini.
Mullen had been a first class goal scorer in St. Louis, and was well on his way to his third 40-goal season in a row for them when he was traded. Joey instantly became the Flames' best player, scoring 16 goals and 38 points in the last 29 games of the season. Joey tied with Al Macinnis as the team's leading scorer in the playoffs that year (19 pts) as the Flames lost in the Finals to the Montreal Canadiens.
Joe Mullen played four-and-a-half years in Calgary, scoring over 40 goals in a season three times, and once scoring 51. He had 16 goals and 24 points in 21 playoff games in 1989 to help the team win their first and only Stanley Cup.
Ed Beers was the main return in the deal for Joe Mullen. A power forward, he had scored 36 goals and 75 points for the Flames back in 1983-84. He only played that partial season for the Blues, as his career was cut short by injury. Beers had seven points in 19 playoff games for the Blues that year, as they lost in the seven-game Western Final to Joe Mullen and the Calgary Flames.
27. Tampa Bay Lightning: Barry Melrose, Coach
The Tampa Bay Lightning have been one of the more successful NHL expansion franchises in the southern United States. Like Carolina and Anaheim, they have won a Stanley Cup.
They have made some questionable moves in their time, and the worst has to be the hiring of Barry Melrose to coach the team for 16 games back in 2008-09.
Barry hadn't coached in the NHL since he'd worked for the LA Kings in 1994-95. Melrose dug his own grave in Tampa Bay by benching young draft pick Steven Stamkos and only giving him limited ice time—often on the third and fourth lines.
Stamkos was touted as the team's next saviour. He had been part of a huge "Seen Stamkos?" marketing effort by the Lightning after they had taken him in the 2008 amateur draft. Stamkos improved markedly once Melrose was removed.
28. Toronto Maple Leafs: Harold Ballard, Owner
Harold Ballard was not technically a Maple Leafs acquisition. He, in fact, actually acquired the Leafs. He became a part owner of the team in 1961 and was majority owner of the Leafs from February 1972 until his death in April of 1990. I'm stretching a point here, but only because Harold Ballard was the single worst thing to happen to the Toronto Maple Leafs in their entire history.
From when he took over the team in 1972 until April of 1990, the Leafs went 8-15 in playoff series, making it to the semifinals only once. They missed the playoffs six times. During the 80's they made the playoffs with some of the worst regular season records for any professional sports franchise in North America.
Ballard was a success at generating revenue for the Maple Leafs organization but the product on the ice suffered whenever he intervened. A quality young team that grew up together in the early 70's was quickly dismantled by his machinations and according to Ballard, it was always the player's fault.
He produced one of the most poorly run organizations in the NHL by the 1980's. He alienated members of the last Stanley Cup winning team in Toronto from 1967 like Frank Mahovlich and Dave Keon, as well as the stars from the 70's, like Darryl Sittler and Lanny Macdonald. Luckily, there were very few 1980's Leaf stars to alienate.
Harold Ballard is one of the prime reasons that the Leafs hold the longest current streak in the NHL for seasons played without winning a Stanley Cup (43 years). When he became the majority owner back in 1972, it was one of the most disappointing days in Toronto Maple Leaf history.
29. Vancouver Canucks: The Flying V Uniform
I was never a fan of the original Vancouver Canuck logo, which was a hockey stick inside a rectangle. A little too on the nose, I thought. They paid $500 back in 1970 for that piece of artistry. They were robbed.
I don't know what the Canucks paid to the designers of their flying V uniforms from the late 70's/early 80's, but I'll guarantee you it was considerably more than the $500 they paid for the first logo. They were robbed again. My friends and I could have put this together in our garage with a yellow sweatshirt and two rolls of coloured tape.
The rationale for the yellow and black flying V uniform was to make the Vancouver Canucks look more aggressive and intimidating. I wouldn't lie to you, that was the plan. It failed.
The uniform has been to referred to, among other things, as an original Star Trek prison uniform. This embarrassment of a sweater is the most disappointing thing the Vancouver Canucks have ever acquired. It may be the ugliest NHL uniform in history.
30. Washington Capitals: Greg Joly, D
The Buffalo Sabres started their franchise by drafting the incomparable Gilbert Perreault in 1970. The year before the Capitals got their first amateur draft choice, the New York Islanders chose one of the greatest defensemen of all-time with their first overall pick, Denis Potvin. The Washington Capitals with their first overall pick, took defenseman Greg Joly.
The Capitals went off the board to pick Joly. They wanted their own Bobby Orr, and so took Joly ahead of Pierre Larouche, Clark Gillies, Mario Tremblay, Doug Risebrough and Bryan Trottier.
Washington had no veteran defenseman for Joly to learn from. He was thrown into the NHL as a rookie and expected to sink or swim. When he didn't immediately live up to expectations, they moved him around, playing him at left wing on occasion.
Joly was traded to the Red Wings in 1976 and never really developed the potential he had shown in junior with Regina. Greg Joly is often unfairly equated with those horrible early Washington Capital teams. He was definitely one of the most disappointing acquisitions in team history.