When the news of Ryan Suter and Zach Parise signing with the Minnesota Wild broke on July 4, what was your reaction? Surprised? Did you do a double take? Rub your eyes to make sure the term and dollar amounts were correct?That's pretty much how we all felt when the Star Tribune's Mike Russo broke the news. And it's often how we feel when a number of trades, signings, hirings and firings occur during a hockey year.
2012 was no different. In a salary cap world, with an expiring collective bargaining agreement and big names seeing their contracts up, NHL owners and general managers were going for broke, trying to save their necks and working the CBA loopholes as best they could before things would change.
Here are 10 stunning NHL transactions from the past year.
Here ... we ... go:
10. Jaromir Jagr signs with the Dallas Stars (July 3)
Jagr and the Philadelphia Flyers seemed like a good fit. The team was successful, they beat the Penguins in the first round of the playoffs, and Jagr gelled quickly with linemate Claude Giroux, helping him to a 93-point season. Jagr made it clear he wanted to return for the 2012-13 season, but the Flyers had eyes on the bigger names on the free agent market, like Ryan Suter. The 40-year old Jagr could only wait for so long before the Dallas Stars swooped in with a 1-year, $4.5 million deal, joining fellow dinosaur Ray Whitney as the team's biggest name summer signings.
9. Toronto Maple Leafs trade Luke Schenn to Philadelphia Flyers for James van Riemsdyk (June 23)
The trades of the 2012 NHL Draft had a brotherly theme to it. On Day 2, Schenn joined up with brother Brayden in Philadelphia in exchange for JVR. The deal had been long-rumored and filled holes for both teams. Toronto was in need of a scoring forward, while Philadelphia was looking to improve their back-end in Chris Pronger's absence. In Brian Burke's eyes, it was a quality-for-quality, young asset-for-young asset move. Time will tell if the change of scenery will do good to both.
8. Montreal Canadiens finally replace GM Pierre Gauthier (March 29)
There was a point in Gauthier's tenure as GM when he became George Costanza from the "Seinfeld" episode where he's trying to get fired from the New York Yankees. From keeping head coach Jacques Martin on the job for too long to his cold relationship to the media to the way he handled Mike Cammalleri's departure to Calgary, Gauthier tried his hardest, but owner Geoff Molson wouldn't pull the trigger until the 2011-12 Canadiens season was long gone. He could have rushed the Bell Centre ice as Bodysuit Man and his job wouldn't have been in danger.
Two days before Christmas 2011, Ron Wilson tweeted that his holiday would be even better if Santa stuffed "a certain piece of paper in my stocking." Santa -- well, Brian Burke -- must have listened, as the now former Maple Leafs head coach announced a contract extension on Christmas Day via Twitter. A little security didn't help, however. The Leafs went 11-16-3 between Dec. 25 and March 2, the day Wilson was fired, and dropped from sixth to 12th in the Eastern Conference.
6. GM Scott Howson gets his deal, trades captain Rick Nash to New York Rangers (July 23)
The 2012 Trade Deadline seems so far away. It was a magical day dominated by the rumors of the potential landing spot of Columbus Blue Jackets captain Rick Nash. Every other deal was minor in comparison to the feverish coverage of Nash. At the end of the day, Nash remained a Blue Jacket and held a spot under the bus driven by Howson. It wasn't until the end of July when Howson felt the package he was offered by the Rangers was good enough and sent the franchise face to New York City exchange for Artem Anisimov, Brandon Dubinsky, Tim Erixon, and a first-round pick.
5. Jordan Staal rejects 10-year extension with Pittsburgh Penguins, dealt to Carolina Hurricanes at NHL Draft (June 22)
The day before the 2012 Draft, which was held at CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh, Staal rejected a 10-year, $60 million extension to stay with the Penguins. He no longer wanted to sit behind Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin on the team's depth chart. And so, on his wedding day, Staal was sent to Carolina. He would later ink the same extension that he turned down from the Penguins.
4. Jeff Carter reunited with buddy Mike Richards in trade to Los Angeles Kings, goes on to win Stanley Cup (February 23)
When the Philadelphia Flyers dealt Jeff Carter to the Columbus Blue Jackets at the 2011 NHL Draft, he went into hiding and had to be dragged out to meet with the media. After spending most of last season on a Columbus team going nowhere, Carter finally got his wish and was sent out of town. Making things even better for him was the fact that it was Dean Lombardi on the other end of Howson's phone as Los Angeles continued to become Philadelphia West. Carter scored nine points in 16 games with the Kings during the regular season and 13 points in 20 games during the team's run to their first Stanley Cup, including the overtime winner in Game 2 and four goals in the Final.
3. Mike Cammalleri disses Canadiens, promptly dealt to Calgary Flames (January 12)
Cammalleri dared to say that the Canadiens possessed a "losing mentality", so of course the outspoken guy was run out of town. But not before he was pulled mid-game and told to sit and wait at the team's hotel where he would eventually learn of his being traded back to Calgary. Oh, and he was told he'd have to pay for his own jersey. Pierre Gauthier Management 101, everybody!
The Flyers are always in the market to add a big ticket to their roster, and with a need to strengthen their defense corps, Weber was a prime target after Ryan Suter decided to go to Minnesota. After they were unable to work out a trade, the Flyers got impatient and went the offer sheet route for the 27-year old restricted free agent. Nashville would match the offer, backing up the words the organization put forth immediately after Weber signed.
1. Zach Parise and Ryan Suter sign identical 13-year, $98 million deals with Minnesota Wild (July 4)
Both had plenty of suitors, but it wasn't until late in the game that it became clear that they were coming as a package deal. As the two premier free agents on the market, there was blanketed coverage of every step in the process; from airport stakeouts to tracking the planes of agents and team owners, #PariseWatch and #SuterWatch took over the first few days of July and ended with the two American stars signing their deals on the Fourth of July.
Follow Sean Leahy on Twitter at @Sean_Leahy
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