Sunday, July 16, 2006

Back to Normal

Ok, I went a few days without posting about hockey. See? I live a rich, varied life. Now get off my back, ok??

A few days back, the Czech hockey site posted an interview with a favorite player of mine, seeming to indicate (through my very limited understanding of Czech) that said player might be coming back to the NHL. (no link -- I'm too lazy to hunt it down now, it's 92 goddamn degrees here. If anyone reading this knows Czech, fine, I'll post the link, and you can translate it for me. OK??)

That rumor (which also surfaced last year, and probably other times as well) brought back memories of a particularly black day...

The Worst Trade in Colorado Avalanche Team History

For all of the canny moves Pierre Lacroix made -- picking up a supposedly over-the-hill Roy, trading Owen Nolan for Sandis Ozolinsh, getting Ray Bourque for spare parts (ok, Martin Grenier isn't a spare part) -- there were a bunch of trades that, in retrospect, were disasters. Regehr and Rene Corbet (and, uh, Wade Belak) for Theo Fleury and Chris Dingman? Chris Drury and Stephane Yelle for Derek Morris, Dean McAmmond, and Jeff Shantz? Serviceable goalie David Aebischer and his reasonable contract for serviceable goalie Jose Theodore and his totally insane contract? All bad. Bad, bad, bad.

But nothing gets me quite as much as this one:

March 24, 1998

Colorado Avalanche trade Josef Marha to the Anaheim Mighty Ducks for a conditional pick in the 1999 draft and Warren Rychel

If you're a hockey-fan reader, you may be scratching your head at that one. (my non-hockey-fan friends are already feeling their eyes glaze over as they make mouth-fart noises.) Marha managed a total of 53 points in the NHL before bouncing over to Switzerland in 2001-02. To that point, he'd managed nine points in parts of a couple seasons with the Avalanche. Compared to the other trades, it was a minor blip on the radar.

But -- but -- Marha was a favorite of mine (and as we've seen, I'm not terribly rational about who I choose as favorite players), a quick little guy. And he seemed to represent the hope that many of us had in those early years following the first Cup, that the Avalanche team was somehow self-sustaining, that it would grow new parts to replace those that grew old and broke away. Now, years later, it's obvious that was a vain hope.

Rychel? He was picked back up because he was "good in the locker room" (which was nice, because outside the locker room he wasn't noted for much other than an ability to take a punch in the face). The added leadership helped the Avs greatly, as they blew a 3-1 lead in the playoffs and lost to Edmonton in the first round.

Against all logic and sanity, I still think that perhaps, had Marha stayed in Avs-land, he would have fulfilled his promise, and to this day he'd be putting up 100-point seasons, the residents of Denver would have Josef Marha facial tattoos, and so on. Instead, a few undistinguished years with Anaheim and Chicago, and then over to Davos. Rychel played 28 games for the Avalanche the next year, then retired. This trade really didn't work out for anyone, did it?

* * *

Couple link updates: added Army of the Ohio, dropped Molto Benny (because it's DEAD). I think I planned to add some more, but it's too damn hot to carry through on plans like that. Maybe later.


alanah said...

Geez, that's fantastic! An Avs fan post on the horrors of the Avs and their leader, The Great LaCroissant.

Just add a few Roy jokes and I might print and frame this one...

gsdgsd13 said...

I can't hear you -- I've got Patrick Roy's Stanley Cup rings in my ears.


alanah said...

So you're back to normal, it would appear -- "see no evil, hear no evil..."

gsdgsd13 said...

Seriously for a moment, one thing that I was contemplating as I wrote this: of the guys who have been the most successful GMs (result-wise) of the past decade, Lacroix is the only one with these brutal marks on his record. The others (let's throw in Lamiorello, Holland, Gainey -- he was Stars GM when they won, right?) have made bad moves, but none so outright brutal as the Fleury and Morris trades.

Or maybe Lacroix was just a Flames double agent all along.

Jes GÅ‘lbez said...

I'm glad I wasn't the only one high on Marha. I thought he was going to be a good 2nd line center, but he never really got a great shot to take the ball and run with it.

gsdgsd13 said...

Thanks for the backup-- see? I'm NOT insane.

He didn't play on the deepest teams in Anaheim (which had Kariya and Selanne and not much else) and Chicago (which had a bunch of really old guys) -- bad situations for an undersized center. Of course, in his one full year with the Blackhawks, he was outscored by Anders freakin' Eriksson... so perhaps NHL greatness really wasn't in the cards.