Nearly six weeks after firing their head coach and replacing him with the immortal Ken Hitchcock, the Edmonton Oilers’ attempts to salvage the season and push for the playoffs continued with a couple of mid-level trades.
General manager Pater Chiarelli, who appears to be doing everything to save his job, kicked things off by sending Chris Wideman and a 2019 third-round draft pick to the Florida Panthers for defenceman Alex Petrovic late last week.
But the Oilers weren’t done reshuffling the deck chairs, as they also sent forward Drake Caggiula and defenceman Jason Garrison to the Chicago Blackhawks for defensemen Robin Norell and Brandon Manning.
And while the two moves may have given the Oilers a slight upgrade on the back end, that second trade was a bit of a head-scratcher for Oilers fans, who remember Manning very, very well.
Back in November of 2015, when he was playing for the Philadelphia Flyers, Manning laid an awkward hit on Connor McDavid that broke his collar bone, sidelining the Oilers captain for 37 games in his rookie season. But that was just the beginning of a burgeoning beef between the two players.
When the two met again on the ice in 2016, McDavid didn’t hold any punches while speaking with the media.
“I did all I could defending him last year in the media,” said McDavid after the game. “Everyone wanted to make a big deal saying he did it on purpose, and he wanted to say some comments today about what went on last year. I thought it was one of the (most) classless things I’ve ever seen on the ice.”
But two years later, with McDavid and Manning now teammates, the Oilers captain has drastically changed his tune as the club pushes for the playoffs in the new year. The former foes have apparently been in contact since the trade that sent Manning to Edmonton, and it was McDavid who reportedly took the high road.
“Connor actually reached out,” Manning shared with TSN. “He said he’s happy to have me and thinks I can help the team. Obviously, with our history and when a guy of that calibre reaches out to you, it’s pretty special.”
Manning is likely to make his Edmonton debut tonight against the visiting Winnipeg Jets as the Oilers try to put an end to a five-game losing streak.
But if these two trades didn’t already reek of desperation, sending Caggiula — one of your beloved captain’s good friends — to Chicago for a player who laid a cheap shot on McDavid just three years ago certainly does. It puts McDavid in a rather interesting position, but the former Hart Trophy winner appears willing to let bygones be bygones.
Injecting your struggling team with a dose of bad blood, however, may not be the greatest way to fix what has been yet another disappointing season in Edmonton.
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