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Blog: Ron Gallo’s View from the Press Box

Well here it is, perhaps one of the biggest weeks in a Junior A hockey player's career. I'm not talking about a big game; I'm referring to the trade deadline that comes up at 6:00pm on January 10th. It can be a nervous time for players and fans alike, but trades should be expected because they are going to happen.

It might sound cold, but it is a part of hockey life, a necessary evil if you will. General managers, coaches, scouts and a host of advisors sit and analyze players from other teams in hopes of spotting one that will be able to come in and make a difference for their new team or perhaps be a contributing member of the squad in the future.

For a hockey player who made the first decision to play at the Junior A level, the decision was a personal one. It was self controlled by the very fact that it was the player who ultimately chooses the team they would play for. That is a powerful feeling, a sense of empowerment and independence. The days and weeks leading up to the trade deadline are at the opposite end of the spectrum, however.

Some players may be looking at the trade deadline as an opportunity to head to a new team and may be left asking why they weren't moved and given a chance with a team that seems to be destined for a long run into the playoffs. For the majority of players, however, they are happy where they’re at. They are playing within a system that they have grown accustomed to. Either way the choice is no longer really theirs to make.

The fate of a player at the trade deadline is completely driven by the decision-makers that sit behind closed doors and hold long conversations with their counterparts from other teams. It's true that a great majority of trades are made without the player's knowledge and hence the nervous time for all players at this time of the year. Players all over the league are asking themselves if they are the bait on the hook or the glimmering jewel of hope for another team.

Players who committed to play for one team made that choice based a number of criteria that met with personal standards set by the player. For a great deal of these players, it becomes necessary to pack a bag with essentials and move in with a new family, a host family or billet family. After making a home with the team of their choice, the trade deadline period rolls around and then uncertainty comes into play with the prospect of being traded to another team for the remainder of their junior careers.

If I can give any one player a piece of advice about this time, it is only this: make the most of any and all of your opportunities. Playing hockey for any one of the teams in the BCHL should be exciting, challenging and rewarding both on and off the ice. It may be unfortunate, but trades are as much a part of the game as hitting is; trades should always be expected.

Ron Gallo, the voice of the Prince George Spruce Kings, will be blogging the Interior Conference during the 2008/09 season. Check back often for Ron's insights into the latest news from the BCHL's Okanagan and Northern-based teams.