It's funny how many miles a story can go without a shred of fact. Here's a basic timeilne of today's events, just in case you've been at work all day:
-Andy Strickland, the Blues writer for HockeyBuzz, put a post today stating that Chris Pronger had been traded to the Kings for Jack Johnson and the 5th overall. About 45 minutes later, he took the post down; about 20 minutes after that, he put the post back up but added a whole bunch of caveats, including the removal of any mention of Jack Johnson and the 5th overall pick. He also stated that Chris Pronger did not know anything about a trade.
-About an hour after Strickland's new post went up, The Score's Steve Ludzick put up his own post on The Score's website stating the same thing; there's no indication whether he had a different source or was parroting Strickland's information.
-The Score (which I guess is like the Versus of Canada) put the trade up as a breaking news story, seemingly making the trade a done deal. Except...
-Both Dean Lombardi and Bob Murray denied the trade in text messages to the Los Angeles Daily News and the OC Register, respectively. Of course, Lombardi has lied to Rich Hammond before, so one can't necessarily take his word as the gospel truth.
-Chris Pronger went on Sportsnet and denied that he was being traded.
-A helpful reader forwarded me an e-mail from Helene Elliot, who stated that she had gotten confirmation from the Ducks that the rumored deal was not true. (Funny, you would think I would do things like e-mail people to get scoops, but nope.)
-At around 3 o'clock today, Heidi Androl released the following Twitter: "I love watching the internet blow up with Rumors. Been in the office all day three doors down from D.L. So funny.....Pronger is not a King."
Two things: one, there can't be any reason for Heidi Androl to sit three doors away from Dean Lombardi. Two, I really, really hate Twitter.
-A little after that, PJ Stock (who knows about as much as Heidi Androl) said the trade was a done deal on CBC Radio, citing Lombardi as his source.
Lots of action today, and what have we learned? That nobody knows what the hell is going on; that the story has been laughed off as ridiculous by the local papers but is being taken seriously by a fairly well-respected person (Strickland) and a cable news network (The Score); that today is game 7 and I doubt The NHL wants any attention pointed anywhere but the Stanley Cup Finals. Something is going on, that much we know; what is going on is anyone's guess.
This is just me speculating (Blogging!), but considering that Andy Strickland is a St. Louis blogger I have to assume that Chris Pronger was the source of the whole thing. The Kings don't have any coaches that used to ply their trade in St. Louis, but Pronger was a Blue for many years and likely still has ties to the Missouri-based Strickland. Strickland either misinterpreted whether he could go with the story or just chose to go for it and was told to fix the post so as not to distract from today's game, while the GM's tried to squash the rumor for now. (Note that they never say "Chris Pronger will not be traded," or "We're not trading for him," just that this specific trade isn't going to happen. Sneaky.) That's assuming the trade was legitimate, of course. Either way Strickland comes out of this in bad shape: either he just made something up and loses any and all credibility with the hockey-reading public, (a la Bruce "Malkin to the Kings" Garrioch) or he blew a percolating trade and no one in hockey circles is going to want to talk to him again. I choose to believe that Strickland is probably just overanxious or incompetent, not dishonest, and there's at least some truth to this rumor. I think that we'll see a trade involving Pronger, or Jack, or the 5th overall, or maybe all three combined in a blockbuster trade.
And what a trade it would be. Two longtime rivals trading a superstar for an emerging young defenseman and a ridiculously high draft pick? I can't think of anything similar to it. I would probably hate the trade as a Kings fan, just because trading Johnson and the 5th overall for a guy whose contract expires after next season seems like a little much, but the idea is sound. You have to figure that Johnson is going to be gone in 3 years anyway as the Kings' other young defensemen start making their way, so why not trade him now for a better player? I couldn't see Dean trading Johnson and the 5th for Pronger, but Johnson and next year's #1, contingent on Pronger signing an extension, would be great for the Kings.
The trade would also be excellent for Ducks' fans. I haven't had a chance to discuss this with Earl Sleek (he's away from a computer until Sunday), but I think he would like it too. Despite the Ducks' stellar playoff run, I think everyone knows that they are headed into a new era, one in which players like Niedermayer and Selanne are no longer with the team. Pronger doesn't fit in with this new rebuild that Bob Murray has been undertaking, and one has to assume that in 3 or 4 years Johnson will be better than Pronger and will be able to help the Ducks pursue another Cup at that point. The pick is just icing on the cake. It's better to start rebuilding too early than too late, I think, and Pronger is definitely the biggest gun in the Ducks' rebuilding arsenal.
(And this is probably the subject of its own post, but how hilarious would it be to witness the complete 180 degree turn fans of both fanbases would take in regards to Pronger and Johnson?)
So, after like 6 hours of reloading computer screens and fielding texts, we're no closer to a trade than we were this morning. We're just going to have to wait and see what happens this weekend or early next week, but for now I think we can all relax. For now.