In the midst of all the trading and headlines that circulated the NHL on Monday as the trade deadline came to a close for the 2021-22 season, there was a bigger bone to pick when it came to the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Chicago Blackhawks after trade talks between the two teams fell through.
It was rumoured that the Maple Leafs and Blackhawks had discussed a trade that included Marc-Andre Fleury and Brandon Hagel going to Toronto in a deal that would’ve seen Petr Mrazek, a couple of first-round picks and Matthew Knies going the other way. Amongst these headlines was the belief that the Maple Leafs were the ones who closed the door on this deal – news that Maple Leafs’ general manager, Kyle Dubas, wasn’t too pleased to have had released. It was something that Dubas shared in his media availability following the deadline.
With the question raised surrounding the discussion of a Fleury deal at the deadline, Dubas referred back to Blackhawks’ GM Kyle Davidson and said that it was a question that he should be asked as he wasn’t used to having specifics of conversations released as they were in this case.
Blackhawks’ Davidson Responds
The question was asked of Davidson in his availability following the deadline, more so in the form of whether he had heard Dubas’ response and he brushed it off saying it was a discussion that should be had privately between the two of them. Now, that’s not to say that Davidson was the leak, but the trust between the two organizations clearly took a step back following the information that was released.
Davidson also made not that the return they got for Hagel from the Tampa Bay Lightning was one they couldn’t turn away.
As for the Blackhawks themselves, they had a fairly active lead up to the deadline moving Hagel, Fleury and Ryan Carpenter as they were sellers this time around. Other names that swirled the trade talks this deadline were Patrick Kane and Alex DeBrincat, however, those proved to be nothing more than speculation.
A Little Love Lost Between Maple Leafs, Blackhawks
When it comes to trades in any sport, the ultimate goal is to make your team better at almost any cost. While it might not always be intentional, part of that is building a relationship between front offices — between general managers.
When one side feels betrayed or blindsided, it certainly makes it tough for said side to trust that those conversations will remain private from here on out. That said, Davidson clearly feels like there’s a conversation that needs to be had. As for Dubas, it’s easy to see that he felt like the information released should’ve been kept between the two teams’ front offices.
Regardless of how you feel on the matter, these two teams have engaged in a number of moves over the years — the most recent coming on Dec. 9, 2021, when the Blackhawks acquired Kurtis Gabriel for Chad Krys.
Prior to that, however, the two swapped Jeremy Morin and Richard Panik back on Jan. 3, 2016.
So while it doesn’t seem that either Dubas or Davidson are heading anywhere any time soon, the real question becomes whether or not the two can work out their differences following this trade deadline fiasco and find a way to build a good relationship for possible future endeavours.
For me, it seems like a relatively easy issue to figure out. But that doesn’t mean it won’t be remembered the next time the Maple Leafs and Blackhawks engage in trade talks down the road.