Somewhere around the time Joel Armia was stealing the puck from the Carolina Hurricanes for the fourth time in one shift Thursday in Winnipeg, Evander Kane was arriving at a hospital in Buffalo.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 14/10/2016 (1876 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Opinion

Somewhere around the time Joel Armia was stealing the puck from the Carolina Hurricanes for the fourth time in one shift Thursday in Winnipeg, Evander Kane was arriving at a hospital in Buffalo.

By night’s end, Armia had authored the rarest of YouTube hockey highlights — a forecheck — and Kane had been diagnosed with cracked ribs which will have him out of the Buffalo Sabres lineup for what the NHL team said Friday will be "weeks," at least.

With that, an already spectacularly lopsided trade got even better for the Winnipeg Jets and even worse for the Sabres.

It was not hard to connect the dots Thursday between what was a fabulous opening night for the Jets (a 5-4, come-from-behind overtime win) and nothing but more misery for a Sabres team for whom very little has gone right since they made the mistake of doing business with Kevin Cheveldayoff in February 2015.

What was touted back then as a rare NHL "blockbuster" trade between the Jets and Sabres has 18 months later been downgraded to simple larceny by Cheveldayoff and the Jets.

It is customary in trades that each party receives goods of approximately equal value. This did not happen in the Jets-Sabres trade. And the disparity in the value each team received has grown only larger in the interim, a chasm that was never more on display than it was on opening night this week.

The upside? The time away from the rink will give (Evander) Kane an opportunity to prepare for his court appearance Oct. 31

History has recorded that the Jets received from Buffalo three pieces that have become critical to their present -- Armia (more on him shortly), winger Drew Stafford and defenceman Tyler Myers -- and two more pieces critical to their future -- forward Brendan Lemieux and a first round Buffalo draft pick that they parlayed into highly touted prospect Jack Roslovic.

And the Sabres? Well, they got a serviceable defenceman in Zach Bogosian and the seemingly never-ending nightmare -- on and off the ice -- that is Kane.

That bad dream got even worse for the Sabres Thursday night when Kane lost an edge and went crashing hard into the end boards, cracking his ribs.

Like so many of the  misadventures that have befallen Kane over the years, this one was once again a mostly self-inflicted wound. The upside? The time away from the rink will give Kane an opportunity to prepare for his court appearance on Oct. 31, where he will be facing harassment, trespassing and disorderly conduct charges in connection with an incident at a Buffalo bar last summer in which he’s alleged to have grabbed three women by the hair and neck.

So he’s got that going for him, I guess.

Kane’s injury came the same week Sabres centre Jack Eichel suffered a high ankle sprain and that spiral seen over Buffalo on Friday was the Sabres season already circling the drain after just one game.

Back in Winnipeg, meanwhile, Armia was making his case that he might eventually turn out to be the most valuable piece the Jets received in that trade with the Sabres.

JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Winnipeg Jets Joel Armia’ at practice Wednesday at MTS Iceplex. The Winnipeg Jets were practicing to prepare for their first NHL regular season home game against the Carolina Hurricanes.Oct 12, 2016 -( See Jason Bell story )</p>

JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Winnipeg Jets Joel Armia’ at practice Wednesday at MTS Iceplex. The Winnipeg Jets were practicing to prepare for their first NHL regular season home game against the Carolina Hurricanes.Oct 12, 2016 -( See Jason Bell story )

Armia earned a standing ovation from some Jets fans late in the second period  at MTS Centre for a remarkable forecheck that saw him basically take on the entire Hurricanes team single-handedly over the course of a 45-second penalty-killing sequence that was exhausting even to watch.

(Quick tangent: only in Canada can you get a standing ovation for a forecheck. I say that with love. It is this country’s appreciation for the fine arts of forechecking, drive-thru coffee and the controlled drift that makes us who we are.)

Armia was originally the most little-known piece the Jets acquired in that Sabres trade -- even Lemieux came with more cache as the son of legendary NHL pest Claude Lemieux.

But flash forward a year and a bit and Armia is in the opening night lineup and has now authored a highlight goal -- Dallas defenceman Johnny Oduya is still looking for articles of clothing lost when Armia undressed him last season -- and a highlight forecheck.

That’s exactly the kind of genuine two-way player the Jets haven’t had enough of among their bottom-six forwards since, well, forever --  and you could have excused Jets head coach Paul Maurice Thursday night if he’d used his pocket square to wipe the drool from his chin.

Now, the most lopsided trade in sports history is widely regarded to be the 1989 deal that saw the Dallas Cowboys ship running back Herschel Walker to the Minnesota Vikings in exchange for, well, basically what became the core of a Cowboys dynasty that went on to win three Super Bowls in four years in the 1990’s.

That deal is still referred to as ‘The Great Trade Robbery’ and it remains a continuing source of anguish for long-suffering Vikings fans everywhere.

What’s this got to do with the Jets? Well, Bogosian is no Herschel Walker. And neither is Kane, even if he could stay healthy and out of the police station, which it seems he cannot.

But you have to wonder if years from now, we look back on the Winnipeg side of that trade as the moment things began to turn around for the Jets.

Great Plane Robbery?

 

email: paul.wiecek@freepress.mb.ca

 

 

 

Twitter: @PaulWiecek

Paul Wiecek

Paul Wiecek
Reporter (retired)

Paul Wiecek was born and raised in Winnipeg’s North End and delivered the Free Press -- 53 papers, Machray Avenue, between Main and Salter Streets -- long before he was first hired as a Free Press reporter in 1989.