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Real reasons for Guelph Storm trades will never be known

Whatever the reasons, the deals had to be done quickly

I’m not going to lie to you.

I’m not going to sit here and tell you the trading of Ryan Merkley and Tag Bertuzzi were hockey decisions based purely on on-ice performance, on-ice expectations and on-ice frustrations.

Because they weren’t.

But the exact details of the reasons will remain with those closest to the situation. The rest of us are left with second and third hand stories, observations, innuendo and speculation.

In the Merkley case, what is fact is that there were clearly frustrations - at both ends - between George Burnett and Ryan Merkley. Those played out in front of 4,000 people several times over the past couple of season.

These types of frustrations aren’t uncommon in junior hockey, but when they keep reoccurring over an extended period of time, something usually has to give.

What is also fact is that a very upset Todd Bertuzzi came to the Sleeman Centre last Friday and left the rink with his son. The reasons were not for public consumption.

What we can rationally assume, given the timing of both trades, is that there was some impetus to find these two players new homes as quickly as possible.

The team had the entire Christmas break coming up and could have spent more time making deals, but they didn’t. There had to be a reason for that.

Given that impetus, the Storm got the best return they could under pressure. You can argue that they didn’t get enough, but they got the best they could. Sometimes your hand is forced.

The only argument you might make is that they theoretically could have had a better offer for Merkley from a Western Conference team but wanted him in the Eastern Conference for obvious reasons. He’s a super-skilled game-breaking player and you don’t want to have to play him nine or 10 times over the next two years.

Regardless of the reasons, it is disappointing that the team has traded away the first overall pick of the 2016 draft and the second overall pick of the 2017 draft: two players who should be considered part of the core of your team right now.

In return they got a skilled winger and a bucket of draft picks.

Are they a better team today than they were a week ago? Who knows. If Pavel Gogolev hits the 30-goal form of a year ago and Burnett can translate the draft picks into another contributor, then maybe the Storm makes out okay.

But for an older team that is three players away from being a Western Conference contender, the time to translate those picks into something is now, not in future drafts.


Tony Saxon

About the Author: Tony Saxon

Tony Saxon has had a rich and varied 20 year career as a journalist, an award winning correspondent, columnist, reporter, feature writer and photographer.
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