By now, there are few people who don’t know that Peter Chiarelli wants to trade for a defenseman. Not only has the Bruins general manager stated it several times, but it’s been discussed heavily by media and fans alike as the Feb. 28 trade deadline grows nearer.
Tomas Kaberle has been the most popular name in the rumor mill, and with reports emerging Tuesday that the Bruins are the only team he would accept a trade to, many are playing hypothetical GM in trying to predict what the B’s could move to Toronto should a deal be made.
Yet as the rumors are generated, players face the annual task of trying to block out all the trade whispers. Claude Julien admitted Wednesday that there’s “no doubt” that players can have a tough time dealing with it, adding, “I’m sure there’s some players thinking about that.”
From the moment the Bruins acquired Chris Kelly late Tuesday night, rumor sites and various sultans of speculation made the connection that given the two players’ cap hits, Blake Wheeler could potentially be expendable in a trade for a defenseman. The 24-year-old has heard his name in various rumors before, and will use past lessons learned to handle this trade season.
“I guess the first lesson you learn [is] you don’t read anything because you’re always better than you are when things are going good, and you’re always worse than you are when things are going bad,” Wheeler said Wednesday. “Trades and all of that are the same way.”
“I can’t speak for everyone in our locker room. I know personally, I don’t read anything. I’m sure most of the guys don’t read much either, because what good does it do to read your name and that you’re going to be traded? Ninety-five percent of the time it’s not true anyways, so until that happens, you’ve just got to worry about your business here.”
While players are better off not focusing on names and who could go where, the Bruins are in a different situation from years past, as it is universally know that the team has a move in mind. With Chiarelli targeting a defensemen, the logjam that already exists on the blueline could face even more competition. Johnny Boychuk was the team’s healthy scratch on Tuesday, and the B’s have scratched a different defenseman over the last three games.
While the seven guys on the Bruins’ blueline are already pushing one another for a spot in the lineup, Boychuk would welcome another defenseman under one condition.
“If it’s going to help our team, then yeah,” Boychuk said Wednesday. “Anything to help our team.”
Earlier in the season, various rumors suggested Wheeler could be on the move to the Coyotes, the team that he elected not to sign with after they spent a fifth overall pick on him. Nothing happened there, but Wheeler can bet that he will continue to hear his name brought up in rumors. With Wheeler a part of a team that is in the midst of a season-worst three-game losing streak, the winger is more focused on changing the team’s luck than worrying about a change in uniform.
“The rumors you hear never happen, and the ones you don’t hear about, those ones seems to happen,” he said. “From our standpoint, I think our focus is that we have games to play. We have points to earn, and we can’t worry about what’s being written in papers, or online in blogs.
“We start worrying about things we can’t control and all of a sudden things we can control are going to slip. We’ve already lost three straight, so the most important thing for us is to start winning. Whatever happens from other standpoints is going to happen, and that’s out of our control.”
The Bruins will be on the road for the next six games and will not return to the Garden until March 3. Julien can see why players could worry about whether they’ll be with the club for that next game in Boston, but at the same time knows that it isn’t the hands of anyone in the dressing room.
‘I know it weighs on players’ minds all the time when you hear rumors about a certain player on your team,’ Julien said. ‘At the same time, you want the players to be professionals and deal with the issues as professionals and say it’s out of your control. At the same time, those players, if it’s not here, it will be somewhere else.
“It’s not like they’re not going to be playing hockey anymore. You really have got to take that approach and say, ‘You know what? It’s one game at a time. Right now I’ve got to do my job and let the people that make those decisions that are out of my control make them. That’s the best way to approach it.”
Five more days and the players won’t need to think about it. For now, the only change they’ll need to focus on is in the final scores.