The On Deck Circle

The unofficial home of Real Talk

What I Learned Blogging Two Deadlines

Posted by Blake Murphy on February 29, 2008

Bonzi Wells 4/8/07Two full days, 11 hours, and 31 trades later, I’ve had just about enough trade deadline blogging. Last Thursday I exhausted myself blogging the NBA Trade Deadline alone, and that day was a light one with just 6 trades. On Tuesday, Paul and I blogged the entire NHL Trade Deadline, which produced a ridiculous 25 trades. Needless to say, I’m glad the time for player movement is past us for the time being (though the NFL’s tiny trade season is about to commence). Blogging both deadlines in the same week gave me little time to breathe but a lot of time to think. What did I learn from my two marathon days?

Before I tell you the five things I learned, feel free to take a look back at our NHL Deadline and NBA Deadline coverage.

tim hortons1. If you’re going to do it, be fully prepared.
I think I accomplished this on both days. I left the house only for lunch, and even those short trips proved costly. On Tuesday, the NHL decided it would throw down 7 or 8 trades on my lunch hour, putting Paul and I behind for a solid hour, sweating to catch up. I also made the big mistake of not having snacks handy. Both days I grabbed a coffee early and left for lunch, but a day like this really requires a full supply of junk food. I won’t miss that element next time.

Several times during the day I just wanted to hit the couch and sleep. Despite my speed at writing things like this, it is exhausting to think, research, write, and stare at a computer screen for hours on end. Anyone who has done a last-minute essay can vouch for that. I couldn’t really afford to miss a trade though – both of these days were supposed to be landmark days for the site. The NHL Deadline became our highest traffic day ever, and I’m confident the NBA Deadline would have cracked the top 3 if it weren’t for half of our readers being in Cuba for spring break.

I could definitely do the two days again, though I beg the powers that be to separate them by more than five days next time around. For next year, I’ll have the following ready: a pot of coffee, cable, someone to work with, snacks, glasses (instead of contacts), and something to fill the time between trades.

2. I could do this for a living.
Yes, it was extremely difficult, but if my 9-4 Thursday and 11-5 Tuesday were the worst a job writing about sports could throw at me, count me in. This is more of a self-serving point, but I think my coverage was speedy and knowledgeable, giving you the information you needed foremost and my opinions in a secondary manner for you to peruse at your leisure. A webmaster would be nice, too, so I can focus on the trades rather than HTML code and updating the site, but I digress. Like I said, blogging an entire trade deadline has to be the toughest single-day assignment a job like this would entail, so please, sign me up to do this as a 9-to-5.

3. I haven’t lost my hockey knowledge.
While Paul’s (and later, Deven’s) analysis was probably a little deeper than mine, I think I did a fair job showing the importance of the smaller deals throughout the day. I definitely still know the game of hockey and haven’t lost my feel for the business, locker room, or on-ice parts of the game. Granted, it took research to find statistics and biographical information for players (where in my teenage years I could recite them all for you). Even still, I don’t think you can claim my conclusions to be flawed. A little horn-tooting here, again, but the day actually made me feel a little closer to hockey (somewhere I’d like to be). That’s one step closer to returning as a fan, so here’s hoping for more.

4. I still prefer the NBA to the NHL.
I had way more fun on the NBA Deadline. Even though I had Paul with me Tuesday and even though the NHL’s day was more exciting, I much preferred Thursday to Tuesday. It could have been ending the day with a Podcast or the steady supply of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, but I’m pretty sure it’s the fact that basketball is the greatest sport there is (let the flaming begin). The NBA trades, while fewer, provided me with more to write about and seemed to have a greater genuine impact across the board, save for the two biggest hockey trades. Most of the NHL deals will not register in the win-loss column or make a big impact in the playoffs, while the NBA deals involved prominent bench players or, at least, fan favorites. This obviously ignored the two blockbuster NHL deals, and I’m changing this paragraph a bit having thought about it since originally writing it. The NHL’s bigger deals on deadline day were more fun, but I guess I’m blinded by the NBA’s three-week trading period that involved nearly every good team and every star player. I also realize the tedious trading in the NHL is a function of the NBA having 15 players on a roster versus hockey’s 23, but we’re talking deadlines here. Juan Dixon and Primoz Brezec are going to have a bigger impact than Chris Simon and Jan Hlavac, sorry. Anyways, promoting the NBA over the NHL may just kill The ODC, so I’ll stop here.

5. Despite being more strict in appearance and language, the NHL collective bargaining is much less restrictive to trade activity than the NBA version is.
This was the biggest nugget of universal sporting truth that was revealed to me. The NHL’s salary cap is hard, meaning no team can cross it. The NBA’s salary cap has more flexibility and a good number of rules that can bypass the salary cap for trades. Those facts would lead you to believe that NBA teams are more capable of doing trades, but that conclusion would be wrong.

Foremost, NHL teams seem to already have a better grasp of how to manage the cap than NBA teams do. Granted, there are people like John Ferguson Jr. out there, but there are also teams like Anaheim, Colorado, and Pittsburgh who manage the cap well enough to still be able to make a move come deadline day. The Boston Celtics couldn’t have made a trade without losing a key cog, as is the case for the Raptors, Magic, Jazz, and so on.

Additionally, the ‘count it as it comes’ rule of the NHL salary cap (where salary is counted as paid, not as an annual figure) allows for greater trade flexibility. While the NBA’s luxury tax counts like this, the salary cap is a solitary figure, meaning teams can’t pay less early in the season to ‘save up’ for a big name player at the deadline.

Probably the biggest piece of the difference puzzle, other than the deeper rosters being more conducive to trades, is the fact that the NHL draft is deeper and by and large less important than the NBA draft. In the NHL, having seven rounds makes it easy to trade marginal players for picks, whereas every pick in the NBA has a good deal of value. This effect is multiplied when you consider that salaries must match in NBA trades, so players can rarely be traded ‘straight up’ for draft picks. The NHL deadline involved 22 picks being moved compared to just 3 on the NBA’s big day. Obviously draft picks always have value, but the fact that there are more of them and they are less impactful in the NHL makes wheeling and dealing at the deadline much easier.

One Response to “What I Learned Blogging Two Deadlines”

  1. paul Says:

    a good lunch, leg room and some coffee is essential. also, i would have to argue that your analysis was much better than mine. so many f’ing trades, i felt like i was in a sweatshop. great day though.

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