Let's turn the clock back to the 1980 NHL trading deadline, which essentially was the birth of the event as we now know it and love it.
On March 10th, the New York Islanders trade Billy Harris and Dave Lewis to Los Angeles in exchange for prime time center Butch Goring. They'd go on to win 4 consecutive Stanley Cup championships and 19 consecutive playoff series. Goring, a Conn Smythe Trophy winner in 1981, was the final piece of the Islanders' championship puzzle, and every trading deadline since teams have tried, and almost always fails, to duplicate the same Cinderella story.
Aside from his tenacious two way game and playoff brilliance, Goring was known for two things - his home-made painted leather helmet and jersey #91. In an era well before all of today's NASCAR numbers, Goring wanted his jersey #19 that he wore in LA. A certain superstar named Bryan Trottier already was wearing 19 on Long Island, so Goring came up with the idea of reversing his old number, and donned the jersey 91.
Perhaps the biggest trade of the 2008 season will turn out to be Dallas acquiring Brad Richards. This trade was executed in order to complete a championship puzzle in much the same design. While only time will tell, with 5 assists in his first game in Texas a Star was born and things look good so far for the former Conn Smythe Trophy winner and his new team. If hockey's injury gods smile nicely on the team, Dallas sure looks poised to be a very serious challenger for the Stanley Cup this spring.
And perhaps the hockey gods will smile upon them. The gods like karma, and perhaps Brad Richard's choice of jersey number will bring just a little extra luck.
The Dallas Stars organization has honored the jersey retirement of Bill Masterton's #19 from the franchise's days in Minnesota. Masterton is the only NHL player to die as the result of an on ice play.
So Richards does the Goring and inverts his jersey number of choice, and now wears #91, too. Richards will stick with his factory manufactured helmet, though.
I don't think we'll be referring to Brad as "Butch" Richards any time in the future. But we very well might be referring to him as Stanley Cup champion, again, later this year.
BY THE WAY: According to the Hockey Night In Canada Book "By The Numbers," other players to wear #91 in NHL history are Sergei Fedorov, Marc Savard, Alexandre Daigle, Kris Draper, Oleg Saprykin and Jan Caloun.
BY THE WAY II: Richards is the first player in NHL history to record five assists in his first game with a team. He’s the first player with five points in a team debut since the Flyers’ Al Hill had two goals and three assists in his NHL debut against the Blues on Valentine’s Day, 1977.