The NHL trade deadline is silly, stupid fun

Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

The NHL trade deadline is nearly 48 hours away. With several notable names in play, this year's deadline is primed to have some serious moves take place. Unless they don't.

You don't watch The Bachelor to gain a deeper understanding of human consciousness, and you certainly don't watch it to debate the realities of linear spacetime. But you do watch it because it's silly and you do watch it because it's fun. But above all else you watch it because you want to know what ridiculous thing is going to happen next.

The same is true of the NHL's trade deadline, and it's exactly the reason hockey fans will be glued to their Twitter feeds for the next two days and will tune into the NHL Network to watch eight hours of well-dressed men thumbing through their BlackBerries on Wednesday.

American Thanksgiving is often identified as make-or-break for NHL clubs, and it's the time when trade activity is expressly teased to the masses. Once the Christmas trade freeze thaws at the end of December, eyes are more intent to identify the scout list on the nightly seating charts of local arenas. The perceived presence of that one team at that other team's game absolutely means it'll be looking for that one player everyone has been talking about on that other team. Unless that team is actually in the building to look at the other team, in which case that other player everyone has been talking about is on the move.

As January turns into February, the wheels get turning and conversations are really picking up about star players becoming available. That one team is starting to underachieve and the only thing that can turn it around is a roster shakeup. Who knows, Shea Weber might even be involved.

When the deadline shrinks from a month to only a few weeks away, primary targets are identified. The hope is that all these targets remain available until the day of the deadline, at which point a flurry of trade activity will ensue as clubs dramatically pull their resources together to one-up their rivals with the aspiration of adding the missing piece to a Stanley Cup run.

It's all very dramatic and very tense and potentially very joyous.

If your favorite team adds a well-recognized player, deadline day turns into your birthday.

If your favorite team doesn't do anything or makes a bad move, it's like the most disappointing Christmas you ever had where your parents tell you that Santa Claus was too busy making Power Rangers for all the other kids, so he made you a Conan the Barbarian toy instead (still haven't let that go, mom and dad).

As a collective whole, the trade deadline is this inflated, artificial construct that generates rumors and gossip and, most of all, intrigue. Sure, big deals happen and surprises occasionally manifest in the final hours before the hard deadline. But for the most part, we sit around waiting for a juicy tidbit to emerge from the ether. In most cases, we wait and wait and wait and wait and finally find out that the deal that seemed completely illogical because the asking price was too high is ultimately passed on because the asking price was too high.

Still, we hang onto it not because it makes sense or because it mainlines us to the pulse of the universe. We hang on because it's fun and silly and because we want to know what's going to happen next.

Who knows, maybe those deadline discussions will turn into big-name trades at the draft.

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