Capitals General Manager George McPhee is sure to be a busy man between now and Monday, as he seeks to better his team ahead of the NHL's looming trade deadline. Online, on the air and in print, there's no shortage of media outlets predicting what will happen and at least as many offering up their thoughts as to what should happen.
That's all well and good, of course, but perhaps as interesting as asking Caps fans who they'd like to see in red come Tuesday is finding out who of the rumored-to-be-moved players they'd be most disappointed to find out their favorite team has acquired - who is their NHL Trade Deadline "Do Not Want."
Had you asked me that question a year ago, I might well have said Joe Corvo (and the 25 games he played for the team provided plenty of evidence as to why). This time around I've got another player topping the list: Chris Neil.
It's been said that the Caps are too easy to play against, that they need an infusion of grit, etc. And while I don't necessarily agree with the sentiment, no team has ever been "too tough" for the Stanley Cup playoffs, so adding a 31-year-old right-wing who has averaged 9.6 goals and 210 penalty minutes per 82 games over his career and has 74 career playoff games under his belt would seem to make some sense... but not if that player is Chris Neil.
To begin with, Neil has two seasons (at $2 million per) remaining on his current contract after this one concludes, so he's no "rental" - he's a commitment. More importantly, he's a guy who "delivered a two-hander to the back of [a star center's] legs," had "run-ins with Magnus Arvedson and Martin Havlat" (who have combined for two fights in well over 1,000 NHL games), and scrapped with Chris Campoli (whose NHL fight card has just two names on it, one of which is Sergei Brylin). That Neil picks on some featherweights every once in a while wouldn't be too much to look past... if all of those guys weren't his teammates at the time of the incidents. And when he's not actively bullying guys wearing the same sweater he is, he's often causing trouble for them.
I could go on, but won't. I'll just ask a simple question: is this the kind of guy you want around the Caps' locker room? I know my answer.
So who's your NHL Trade Deadline "Do Not Want"?