It is rare for more than two teams to conduct a trade in the National Hockey League.
That’s why the deal that sent Matt Duchene (finally!) to Ottawa in a deal including Colorado and Nashville was so shocking.
It wasn’t at all surprising that Duchene — who’d be rumored to be traded everywhere in the last couple of years — moved, but the fact that two other teams and eight total players and draft picks exchanged hands.
It’s too early to analyze this deal from an impact perspective, but the trade did up sending playmaking Ottawa center Kyle Turris to Nashville. Colorado, meanwhile stocked the cupboard with prospect Shane Bowers, goalie Andrew Hammond and a first and third round pick from Ottawa. From Nashville (to complete the deal that sent Turris there), the Avalanche also got prospects Samuel Girard and Vladislav Kamenev, along with a second round pick.
Crazy deal, we say.
In the Big 4, there have been quite a few huge multi-player and multi-team trades that have confounded sportswriters and fans everywhere. Here are four notable big deals from each league and the aftermath of each.
16. Seattle Mariners and Texas Rangers – 11 Players (1980)
There were three players of note involved in this December, 1980 swap involving 11 total players from Seattle and Texas. The two best players involved were Seattle pitcher Rick Honeycutt and Texas OF/DH Richie Zisk. The third was Seattle infielder Mario Mendoza, later made famous because his surname is synonymous with futility — his .215 lifetime batting average became forever tied to the “Mendoza Line” no player wanted to go under. Going with Honeycutt and Mendoza to Texas were C Larry Cox, RF Leon Roberts and DH Willie Horton. Players tagging along with Zisk to Seattle were INF Rick Auerbach, P Ken Clay, P Jerry Don Gleaton, P Brian Allard and P Steve Finch. As far as who “won” the trade, we’ll call it a wash. Honeycutt, the centerpiece going to Texas, lasted two and a half seasons and was an All-Star for the Rangers in 1982. Zisk played parts of three seasons in Seattle before retiring, hitting 49 homers and driving 141 runs in three campaigns.
15. Chicago Cardinals and Los Angeles Rams – 10 Players (1959)
This one will be forever known as the “Ollie Matson Trade.” And it had future NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle’s fingerprints all over it. In early 1959, six-time Pro Bowler Matson, a half back with the Cardinals, was coming off a season that saw him rush for 505 yards and catch 33 passes for another 465 yards, while scoring eight touchdowns in 12 games. Rozelle, then GM of the Rams, sent seven players, a draft pick and a player to be named later to Chicago to complete the deal. In the end, Matson couldn’t elevate the Rams back to their glory days of the early 1950s and the nine player sent to the Cardinals had minimal if no impact at all. Matson did get into the Hall of Fame later, being inducted in 1972. No one, in the end, “won” this trade.
14. Milwaukee Bucks, New Jersey Nets And Minnesota Timberwolves – 9 Players (1999)
The year 1999 will go down as the year of the mega-deal in the NBA. The first one went down late in the 1998-99 season and involved the Bucks, Nets and T-Wolves swapping nine total players. The Nets got four players in the trade, including Stephon Marbury, Bill Curley and Chris Carr from Minnesota, along with Elliot Perry from Milwaukee. Milwaukee received three players, including Sam Cassell and Chris Gatling from New Jersey and Paul Grant from Minnesota. Finally, Minnesota welcomed two: Terrell Brandon from the Bucks and Brian Evans from the Nets. “Starbury” would go on to have his best two and a half seasons as a pro in Jersey, albeit without getting to the post-season. Cassell was solid in Milwaukee for four seasons, averaging 19 points per game in 313 contests (his most anywhere) after the deal and went to the playoffs four times. Brandon, previously an all-star in Cleveland, was good for three and a half years in Minny. Again, this multi-player, multi-team deal was a wash.
13. New York Rangers And Boston Bruins – 5 Players (1975)
The rivalry between the Rangers and the Bruins in the 70s was palpable. Players and fans of both teams hated each other in kind, which made this huge deal in November, 1975 all the more shocking. By far the biggest star in this two-team, five player swap was Phil Esposito of the Bruins, who was a five-time scoring champion, eight-time all-star and MVP in 1974. He, along with veteran offensive defenceman went to the Rangers for then seven-time All-Star Brad Park, longtime playmaking center Jean Ratelle and D Joe Zanussi. Espo’s game was solid, but not spectacular in the Big Apple, while Vadnais’ game also slowly went downhill after 1979. Thus the Bruins “won” this deal, as Park continued to be a force for the B’s until 1983, as did Ratelle, who scored 90 points in 67 games for Boston after that trade and 450 points in 419 total games for the Bruins.
12. Houston Astros And San Diego Padres – 12 players (1994)
This monumental deal involved Pedro Martinez, but not the one everyone knows. No, the 12-player trade between Houston and San Diego included the Padres Pedro A. Martinez, who was never an All-Star, though he did have two decent years with San Diego. He was part of six-pack including Phil Plantier, Derek Bell, Doug Brocail, Craig Shipley and Ricky Gutierrez that went to Houston for Ken Caminiti, Steve Finley, Andujar Cedeno, Roberto Petagine, Brian Williams and that famous player to be named later. None of the players from San Dieog really helped Houston much, except maybe Bell, who wasn’t bad. Caminiti, on the other hand, blossomed in southern California, winning his three career Gold Gloves, two of his three All-Star nominations and NL MVP in 1996. Finley, a fleet centerfielder with some pop in his bat, won two Gold Gloves and was an All-Star for the first time in a Padres uniform in 1997.
11. Philadelphia Eagles, San Francisco 49ers And Baltimore Ravens – 4 Players (2004)
This deal doesn’t go down here as involving the most number of players but it does go down as one of the most bizarre swaps in the history of the NFL. It involved outspoken and flamboyant wide receiver Terrell Owens, so there had to be an element of outlandishness. The Niners were coming off a sub-par 2003 season, when me-first Owens decided he wanted to leave even though he was under contract. Many shenanigans ensued, with Owens trying to void a trade to Baltimore and negotiating his own contract (even though he still had a valid one with San Fran) with the Baltimore Ravens. In the end, Philly did get Owens, while San Francisco got a conditional fifth round pick and DE Brandon Whiting from the Eagles, while Baltimore got a second round pick in the 2004 draft. The Eagles did win the deal getting Owens for parts of two seasons, but they were also a loser in that they had to put up with that head case.
10. Houston Rockets, Vancouver Grizzlies And Orlando Magic – 11 Players (1999)
Before they moved to Memphis, the Grizz weren’t a particularly good team. In a lockout shortened fourth season in 1998-99, the team sported a deplorable 8-42 record and had won only 48 of 246 games in the three season leading up to it. Thus, in the summer of 1999, they weren’t dealing from a position of strength when better teams like Houston and Orlando came looking to poach what talent they had. In a massive 11-player trade, Vancouver dealt their second overall pick in the ’99 draft Steve Francis (a one-two guard who didn’t want to play in Canada) and journeyman C/PF Tony Massenburg to Houston (which also received Don McLean and a first rounder from Orlando). They also sent spare parts PF Michael Smith, swingman Rodrick Rhodes, PG Lee Mayberry and PF Makhtar N’Diaye to Orlando. In return, the Grizzlies welcomed SG Michael Dickerson, C Othella Harrington, PG Brent Price, PF Antoine Carr and a first rounder from the Rockets. The Rockets easily won the deal, as Francis was the only player who did much of anything going forward (NBA rookie of the year, three-time all-star).
9. Pittsburgh Penguins And Hartford Whalers – 6 Players (1991)
Without even getting into the particulars of this massive NHL trade, we will say the Penguins won it, hands down. At the trade deadline in 1991, the Hartford Whalers were a middling team, looking to off-load some veteran talent for younger, cheaper guys. Pittsburgh, on the other hand, had a healthy Mario Lemieux in his prime and were gunning for a long-awaited title. Thus, the Whalers were only too happy to part with great two-way center Ron Francis, along with rock hard Swedish defenceman Ulf Samuelsson and stay-at-home D Grant Jennings. Going the other way were point producing young pivot John Cullen, third-year puck mover D Zarley Zalapski and RW Jeff Parker. Francis played a huge role in Pittsburgh’s two consecutive Stanley Cups after that swap, scoring 44 points in 45 total playoff games. Samuelsson and Jennings played key roles as shut down guys, too. As for the new Whalers, Cullen tailed off considerably and Zalapski had a couple of good years before being traded to Calgary. Parker never played for Hartford.
8. Detroit Tigers And Florida Marlins – 8 Players (2007)
After the 2007 MLB Season, the Detroit Tigers, who finished just out of a wild card playoff spot at 88-74, felt they were on the cusp of bigger and better things. They had a veteran club that hit well and a young new staff ace in Justin Verlander. The Marlins, meanwhile, were also-rans who never shied away from dealing promising players away. Therefore, when the Fish dangled power-hitting and four-time All-Star Miguel Cabrera and former Rookie of the Year pitcher Dontrelle Willis in December of ’07, the Tigers sold the farm, so to speak. In return for future two-time MVP Cabrera and Willis, Detroit parted with young starter Andrew Miller (who wasn’t very good, yet), minor league pitchers Dallas Trahern, Burke Badenhop and Eulogio De La Cruz, back-up catcher Mike Rabelo and young CF Cameron Maybin. Detroit easily topped out in this swap, as Cabrera has been a fixture there for years, taking them to the World Series in 2012. Had the Marlins kept Miller (he was gone by 2011) and maybe even Maybin (also gone by 2011), they might have been a better club in the intervening years.
7. Buffalo Bills, Indianapolis Colts And Los Angeles Rams – 10 Players (1987)
This complicated three-team deal did net the Rams a passel of draft picks (six) and two NFL ready players, but the impact players definitely went to Buffalo and Indianapolis in this 1987 mid-season blockbuster. The centerpiece of the trade was three-time rushing yards leader Eric Dickerson of the Rams, who got packaged up to Indianapolis for second string RB Owen Gill, a first and second round pick in 1988 and a second rounder in 1989. The Bills, who sent former Pro Bowl RB Greg Bell as well as two first round picks (1988-89) and a second rounder (1989), got the rights to Indianapolis’ second overall selection in the 1987 draft, LB Cornelius Bennett. Dickerson did go on to run for over a thousand yards in the remaining nine games of the 1987 season for Indy and was rushing leader for them in 1988, but he only played one playoff game for the Colts. Buffalo, on the other hand, got huge mileage out of future Pro Bowler and defensive leader Bennett, who played a big hand in four straight trips to the Super Bowl. The Rams got some decent play from a couple of the picks, but definitely lost out in this one.
6. New York Knicks, Seattle Supersonics, Los Angeles Lakers And Phoenix Suns – 12 Players (2000)
If counting the draft picks included in this convoluted four-team, 12-player swap in September of 2000, the deal swells to a thunderous 16 players. The Lakers were defending champs and looking to bolster an already good line-up, if we were to put a fine point on this blockbuster. So follow us on this one, closely. The Lakers sent Glen Rice, Travis Knight and a first round pick to the Knicks (who had gone to the Eastern Conference finals in 2000) and in return received veteran Horace Grant, Chuck Person, Greg Foster and Emanual Davis from Seattle. The Knicks also got Vladimir Stepania, Lazaro Borrell, Vernon Maxwell, along with a first round and two second round picks from Seattle and Luc Longley from Phoenix. New York gave up aging and soon-to-be-retired superstar Patrick Ewing to Seattle and Chris Dudley and a first round selection to the Suns. In the end, the Lakers benefited the most, as Grant played a big role in a second consecutive Lakers’ title in 2001.
5. Colorado Avalanche And Montreal Canadiens – 5 Players (1995)
Little wonder the Montreal Canadiens haven’t won a championship since 1993. Let’s just call it the “Curse of St. Patrick.” Early in the 1995-96 season and just three years removed from a Stanley Cup title, the Habs replaced coach Jacques Demers with former Canadien Mario Tremblay. Big mistake. He and star goalie Patrick Roy had a contentious relationship dating back to their playing years together. It would culminate in a humiliating game against Detroit on Dec. 2, 1995, when Roy was lit up for nine goals on 26 shots in a 11-1 loss to the Wings. Roy, who said Tremblay had left him in to humiliate him, said he’d never play for the team again when he was eventually yanked. He was right, because four days later Montreal dealt the two-time champion and Vezina winner, along with Mike Keane, to the Avalanche for G Jocelyn Thibault and forwards Martin Rucinsky and Andrei Kovalenko. Roy would have the last laugh, winning two more Cups with Colorado in eight seasons while Montreal missed the playoffs four times in that span and won two whole playoff rounds otherwise.
4. Los Angeles Dodgers, Boston Red Sox And Pittsburgh Pirates – 7 Players (2008)
Not even winning two titles with Boston (and a World Series MVP in 2004) could keep Manny Ramirez in Boston just one year removed from a 2007 championship. “Manny being Manny” had worn thin with Red Sox management by the summer of 2008 (even though he was an All-Star for the 12th time) and in a three-team swap, he was shipped off to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Heading Boston’s way were 2004 Rookie of the Year Jason Bay and minor league infielder Josh Wilson from Pittsburgh. The Pirates got four players in the trade, including Los Angeles Dodgers infielder Andy LaRoche and P Bryan Morris, as well as Boston Red Sox OF/1B Brandon Moss and P Craig Hansen. We will give a provisional “win” to Boston on this one, as Bay went on to be an All-Star with Boston in 2009, as well as a prolific hitter in three playoff series (the only ones of his career) for the Bosox, hitting .306 in 14 games with three homers and nine RBI.
3. San Diego Chargers, Dallas Cowboys And Minnesota Vikings – 18 Players (1989)
Somehow, after all the dust settled on this mammoth three-team, 18-player trade, the San Diego Chargers ended up with one player — and veteran RB Darrin Nelson did nothing of consequence for them in parts of two seasons thereafter. The Cowboys made off like bandits in this mid-1989 season trade, giving up star running back Herschel Walker and three draft picks to Minnesota (who wouldn’t amount to much) for four players (including CB Issiac Holt) and eight draft picks from the Vikings, one of which would turn into future Hall of Fame running back Emmitt Smith and two-time champion WR Alvin Harper. The Cowboys draft picks also yielded future first string defenders and champions in linebackers Robert Jones and Dixon Edwards. Walker was good, but not great, in two seasons with Minnesota before moving on to Philadelphia in 1992.
2. Miami Heat, Boston Celtics, Memphis Grizzlies, New Orleans Hornets And Utah Jazz – 13 Players (2005)
Three-team trades are rare, four-teamers even more so, but a five-team trade is as rare as snow in the Caribbean. When the dust settled on a summer of 2005 trade that requires a MA in analytics to sort out, the Heat came away the big winner. The big fish in the trade was PF Antoine Walker of the Celtics, who joined the Heat along with PG Jason Williams and swing man James Posey from Memphis (Grizzlies SG Andre Emmett never played for the Heat). Miami also got the draft rights to Robert Duenas from New Orleans. The Heat would win a championship the next season with Walker, Posey and Williams playing key roles. The Celtics got relatively nothing (three players and two draft picks who never panned out). Memphis got Eddie Jones from Miami, but under-utilized him and Raul Lopez from Utah (who never played a game). All the Jazz got was reserve center Greg Ostertag from Memphis and the Hornets received bench swing man Rasual Butler from the Heat and reserve swing man Kirk Snyder from Utah. Phew.
1. Edmonton Oilers and Los Angeles Kings – 8 Players (1988)
In the summer of 1988, after the Edmonton Oilers had just won their fourth Stanley Cup in five seasons, the city was on a high. But, in one fell swoop, Peter Pocklington brought Edmonton to its knees with an inconceivable trade. Needing cash, Pocklington sent the game’s greatest player, Wayne Gretzky, along with fan favorite Marty McSorley and Mike Krushelnyski to the Los Angeles Kings for Jimmy Carson, Martin Gelinas, three first round draft picks and $15 million. To say it was a stunning turn of events would be a severe understatement. The Great One, who led the NHL in scoring in eight of his nine seasons with the Oilers, would go on to three more scoring titles in L.A. Carson had one good year in Edmonton, but was gone early in the 1989-90 campaign, while plugger Gelinas did win a Cup with the Oilers in 1990. The three draft picks didn’t amount to much and Pocklington was persona non grata for years after the Oilers last championship season.