As hockey fans, we live and die with our teams. Every miniscule move is broken down and discussed to death. Maybe that's why we find rumors and speculation on possible trades and player signings so addictive. No matter how ridiculous a rumor is, for whatever reason, people can't just dismiss it and move on. They need to have seven pages of back and forth discussion on a message board saying how silly the rumor is.
I think it's safe to say hockey fans know whom to trust when it comes to rumors. You have the solid choices like Bob McKenzie, Lyle Richardson and Darren Dreger. On the other hand, there are folks out there who create rumors to boost page views or sell newspapers, and have their "rumor" discussed across the hockey world for a few days.
The last two weeks have seen rumors surface just about every day about every single free agent, just like they have at every trade deadline and summer free-agent frenzy in recent memory.
Here are some of the best of the worst rumors we, as hockey fans, have had to digest and regurgitate over the last several years:
Mario Lemieux to sign with the New York Rangers, March 2003 - Larry Brooks
The Penguins were in some financial difficulties around this time. Mario Lemieux owned the team and was in his third season since coming back from an early retirement. Brooks, of the NY Post, came up with the brilliant idea that Le Manifique was going to sell the team and force general manager Craig Patrick to trade him to a big market club; namely, the New York Rangers. This was before the salary cap, so the rumored $10 million salary for #66 was affordable by the Rangers, who were overpaying everyone they could find to put on a pair of skates.
Ryan Smyth signs with Edmonton, Trade Deadline 2007 - Dwayne Klessel
Smyth was one of the hot commodities at the trade deadline last season. Coming into deadline day, there was talk "Captain Canada" (video) would sign a new deal to stay with the Oilers and others speculating where he might be traded. During Rogers Sportsnet's frat party/deadline day show, they had on Wyshynski's good buddy Eklund as their "insider." Mr. Klessel not only disputed a report by Bob McKenzie about Gary Roberts waiving his no-movement clause, but he also "reported" that Smyth had signed with Edmonton. A little bit later, news broke that the Islanders of all teams had swooped in and acquired him. Swing and a miss!
"Sportsnet has learned that a deal between the New York Islanders and the Boston Bruins involving unsigned restricted defenseman Kyle McLaren is imminent." Two weeks later, McLaren was donning a Sharks sweater. There never was a solid explanation on how a deal can go from "imminent" to non-existent. You would think someone would take the time to do some detective work and try to find out what possibly could have gone wrong between the Bruins and Islanders. Instead, the rumored deal fades away into gossip heaven, but not to be forgotten.
Evgeni Malkin to the Los Angeles Kings, June 2008 - Bruce Garrioch
This was the rumored deal that forced me to come out with this ridiculous statement. From the onset, I knew this was total B.S. No way would the Penguins trade Malkin, especially not when he still have another year left on his deal. Luckily, Rich Hammond of the "Inside the Kings" blog actually spoke with one the two general managers supposedly involved in the trade, Dean Lombardi, who was just as shocked as everyone else upon hearing the news: "I had to call Ray (Shero, Penguins GM) this morning and say, ‘I hear I'm trading for him. What am I giving you?''' So basically, Bruce Garrioch heard this rumor from "league sources," yet never even called Lombardi or Ray Shero to find out if there was any traction for the deal. Well done, sir!
Marian Hossa (and his gloves) to the Montreal Canadiens, February 2008 - Press of Montreal
Marian Hossa has taken the double award for this season as being the hottest commodity at the February trade deadline as well as the July 1 opening of the free agency market. Around trade deadline day, Montreal was the hot rumor as the destination for the former Atlanta Thrashers forward. Things really began to heat up when it was noted in the La Presse article that a pair of red, white, and blue gloves labeled "HOSSA" were spotted inside of the Bell Centre. No one seemed to want to believe that those gloves were really for Marcel Hossa, who was on the Rangers at the time and in Montreal to play the Canadiens. Oh, those silly rumors.
As you can see a lot of rumors turn out to be just that, rumors. It's fun to speculate on trades and where a player may sign; but you must, as an old teacher used to say, "consider the source." We know guys like McKenzie, Dreger, and Richardson are solid as they come and of course will have their blips, but you know what you're getting from these guys: solid fact checking.
When you read some of the ridiculous rumors as we see above, what you're really reading is a feeble attempt to bump page views and feed the salivating fans eager for some sort of speculation.