By Rob Merrills
Cocumcussoc, RI--It’s been a big few days for various business sectors across Rhode Island recently, with the Redcoats’ front office making two impactful trades that will see five players changing uniform, subject to league approval. For those who like to dabble in share dealing, as well as having an interest in hockey, market analysts now predict that the time is now ripe to:
BUY in Providence telecoms companies, on the back of the frantic exchanges as the deals were put together by way of protracted negotiations
SELL an interests in local couture houses and bespoke wardrobe manufacturers, as Sean Avery is shipped out of town (which may also adversely affect burlesque houses in the region, but this – of course – is no more than unfounded speculation…)
BUY big in liquor stores, breweries, and domestic service providers, as marquee signing Mike Richards steams in to town and enlivens the area’s social scene. Lawyers engaged to act on behalf of the Providence Journal may also see an upturn in workload, while overtime for the ProJo hacks is certain to become the norm - Bourbon and cigarette sales are likely to increase exponentially, so convenience stores around Providence Place will see increased turnover….
For the hockey club, Richards had been a long-coveted target, but generally considered to be beyond the means of the struggling franchise. It was a bolt from the blue when CSKA Moscow offered Richards as part of a deal to secure the services of Ondrej Pavalec, and GM Rob Merrills took “about three or four seconds” to consider the offer before sending the goaltender back beyond the iron curtain, along with Stephen Weiss, in return for the abrasive centre who is likely to be presented to the public as epitomizing the Redcoats’ new brand of in your face hockey.
Lubomir Visnovsky also joins the club as part of the deal, and his arrival paved the way for the second big transaction, immediately making the constantly disappointing Jay Bouwmeester yet more surplus to requirements. The outgoing defensman, who’s much-vaunted “second half production” has entirely failed to materialise this season, served to balance the stats across a deal that also sends Avery and Matt Stajan to the Mount Vernon Blades, with Brian McCabe, Phil Kessel and Steve Reinprecht moving in the opposite direction.
The Redcoats’ front office quantified this second deal as a “kick up the backside” for the remaining players as the club looks to hold on to it’s coveted current high ranking in the WHL’s “most improved” standings. “Matt and Avery did a job for us” says Merrills, “but their figures showed they’d just been treading water since the New Year – and to be honest, Sean’s damn cologne just stank out the dressing room – and the Redcoats organisation has never been fully supportive of the concept of guys playing with dolls…..”.
“Steve (Reinpriecht) has the ability to make an impact down the stretch” continued Merrills, “and Phil makes a three way contribution, helping out in a problem position, making a solid contribution in points, and winding up everyone who lives in Boston, which can only be a good thing. McCabe is just a solid, hardworking guy with guaranteed production, rather than Jay’s promise of points that may or may not be accrued depending on some vague intangible – I can’t take this club forward on the basis of unfulfilled promise”
With Richards now likely to have completed the projected five man keeper line up for the club, it may also be reasonable to say that Kessel in particular will be viewed as more attractive trade-bait later in the year as the jostling for draft positions heats up than would Bouwmeester, who had been punted in several speculative deals without ever generating much interest.
All in all, a whirlwind few days for the Redcoats front office, and – with the acquisition of Richards – perhaps the first real statement of intent for a franchise looking to redefine itself after months of futility. To coin a phrase – the Redcoats are coming !