The 27th in our 118-part series, and 5th in our 6-part mini-series.
February marks the dog-days of hockey, and in honor of its 28 days, we present a truncated reason. The excitement of the All-Star Game has worn off. The fans of cellar-dwelling teams have started focusing on next year. Pesky, nagging injuries have turned from day-to-day to 4-to-6 week surgery affairs. This should make February Hockey pretty dismal but for one thing: the trade deadline. Lou might not ever make big deals, but it sure spices things up to see other teams stock up on rent-a-players in a last ditch effort to become contenders while simultaneously shipping out all their future talent. Who can give in to the Winter doldrums when they’re on tenterhooks to see which GMs keep their soon-to-be-UFAs in the hopes of going all the way, and which cut their losses before the season’s end? Who can grumble about what a pain it is to have to bundle up in coat, scarf, gloves and hat just to get the mail from the mailbox when they’re analyzing every trade rumor from every media source from the most reliable to the most ridiculous? Who can let the gray skies that hint at those elusive snow-days but never deliver get them down when they’re trying desperately to keep up on who went where? February hockey is all about the rumors and innuendo, misdirection and subterfuge, and the ever-increasing intensity as the playoffs loom ever nearer on the horizon.