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Trade Deadline Memories: The airport press conference heard around the world

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A look back on simpler hockey times, before Twitter ruled the world and TSN's TradeCentre was the only place to be on the Deadline Day.

Wait, I thought you guys told me you had *Luc* Robitaille!
Wait, I thought you guys told me you had *Luc* Robitaille!
James Lang-USA TODAY Sports

Two of my friends had perfect attendance throughout our four years of high school. It is something they aren't shy about.

My attendance record in high school was above-average I'd say, usually racking up two or three sick days and maybe one maintenance day a year (those maintenance days are just as important to a high schooler as to a two-way forward). And since I wasn't delinquent in my attendance, I was afforded the luxury of putting on a clinic in the art of hooky every once in a while.

Every student has their own style of hooky but mine was the long-con.

In early February of my senior year the hallways were buzzing with rumors of a cut day crackdown. The New York Giants had just won the Super Bowl and the powers that be made it known that they would be on high alert on parade day to make sure that those who were not at school were actually sick and not holding in their piss at The Canyon of Heroes. Luckily for myself and a few friends, the administration was four-flushing and nobody came calling for our whereabouts on the day of the parade.

Later on that month I was playing hooky again, this time in order to stay home and watch coverage of the NHL trade deadline. For whatever reason the deadline wasn't very high on the administration's radar for "popular cut days."

Every student has their own style of hooky but mine was the long-con. If the deadline was on a Tuesday, I'd start complaining of a sore throat on Sunday morning, that way it seemed like I toughed it out on Monday and just couldn't "do" Tuesday.

2005-06: Bye Bye, Parrish

My first year watching TradeCentre was 2006. I was able to watch it on my family's desktop via TSN's website somehow. This was pre-Twitter and pre-NHL Network so hockey coverage and more specifically solid deadline coverage was not easily accessible for a high schooler not in Canada. At this time in hockey history TradeCentre was the only one-stop-source for deadline deals. If something happened you'd hear about it first on the show.

I tuned in early because the night before the Islanders had gone all blockbuster on us and traded away Brent Sopel and Mark Parrish for Jeff Tambellini and Denis Grebeshkov. The Isles weren't necessarily out of the playoff picture at this point, but even Mad Mike Milbury knew not to kid himself. We were selling.

For whatever reason the deadline wasn't high on the administration's radar for "cut days."

I stayed glued to my computer screen all day. This was also the heyday for liveblogs and I'm pretty sure it was an up-and-coming Jay Onrait who ran the liveblog for TradeCentre.

That year I stayed home to say goodbye to Brad Lukowich, Oleg Kvasha, and things got emotional when Brendan Witt, the heart and soul and captain of the Capitals, got traded to Nashville.

The way trades were announced that day were much simpler: A trade would be made, someone would tell Darren Dreger or Bob McKenzie, they would signal to Duthie, and then they would tell us. It was high-drama.

That day I promised myself I would never go to school on a deadline day. I couldn't imagine sitting inside a classroom while all this wheeling and dealing was happening around me. It was a good decision because the following year's trade deadline was perhaps the craziest day of my entire life.

2006-07: Something Big Was Going Down

There was one dominant narrative leading into the 2006-07 Trade Deadline: would the Oilers really trade Ryan Smyth?

Again I stayed home from school. How on earth could I focus on my studies when Captain Canada is on the block? I was able to stream TradeCentre on my computer and my day was set in stone.

That year the Islanders were in contention for a playoff spot. They had already made a move, trading Grebeshkov to Edmonton for the legendary Marc-Andre Bergeron, which signaled they were buyers. It was Garth Snow's first trade deadline.

It felt like the Islanders would be active, it felt like they were getting ready to make a serious run at a low playoff berth. Things got off to a slow start. Every time that Duthie would throw it over to the "Trade Breakers" I waited to hear them say that the Isles had made their move, each time I was disappointed. By 2:55 p.m. David Hale was on his way to Calgary, Gary Roberts to Pittsburgh, and Yanic Perreault was revealed as the final piece to the Leafs' puzzle. It was perplexing. Why wouldn't the Islanders upgrade? The eight seed is there for the taking!!

I was seconds away from closing the stream when Gord Miller signaled to Duthie that something big was going down. Duthie told us to stay put. I stayed put. News began to trickle in that Smyth was on the move, we were unsure of the team. I began pacing. Then they broke the trade. The New York Islanders had acquired Smyth for two prospects and a first round pick.

My life had changed in the matter of an instant. I couldn't wrap my head around it. Ryan Smyth was an Islander! An hour later Smyth held a press conference at an airport and famously began to sob, it was the most important airport moment since Ross and Rachel.

Ryan Smyth played 18 games for the New York Islanders.

Over the past few years the landscape of the trade deadline has completely turned over. Twitter and the 24/7 news cycle mean that, and I mean this literatim, there are now thousands of outlets where news of a trade may come from.

There are people out there who get their rocks off to creating fake accounts and tweeting fake trades from them. When a trade goes down Hockey Twitter erupts and loses its mind until the next trade. When you consider that just eight years ago I had to hijack a stream of TSN to stay current, it makes you wonder if we are really better off. It makes you wonder if the new age of constant content ruined the trade deadline.

Or maybe I just miss playing hooky.