Here are a few articles that may shed light on the trade and the Sharks' organizational philosophy at the time:
Hungry Sharks show no taste for building on youth: It's always trade time in hustling San Jose: [FINAL Edition]
Warren, Ken. The Ottawa Citizen [Ottawa, Ont] 09 Feb 1997: B.3.
It starts with organizational philosophy... After their troubled first season in 1991-92, the Sharks have all but abandoned the be-patient-with-our-youth philosophy, which only now is paying dividends for the Senators... In effect, the future is always now in Sharkland.
The rapid pace of movement in San Jose is seen by some as a bold challenge to constantly be a potential Stanley Cup contender. But others see the constant turnover as a state of flux that will always create too much tension in the dressing room.
In a desperate attempt to make the playoffs, San Jose traded for Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Ed Belfour two weeks ago. Gone to Chicago was former goaltender Chris Terreri, acquired only last season for a second- round draft selection. The Sharks also signed former Los Angeles Kings goaltender Kelly Hrudey to a $1.1 million (U.S.) annual salary in the summer.
The Sharks were labelled team Last Chance in the summer, as general manager Dean Lombardi signed 35-year-old Bernie Nicholls, 36-year-old Tim Hunter, 33-year-old Ron Sutter and 30-year-old Todd Ewen as free agents. Couple that with the trades for 31-year-old Todd Gill, 30-year-old Al Iafrate, whose knees are a major question mark, and another deal for 33-year-old Marty McSorley and suddenly you have a group of players thinking about pension benefits.
News came Saturday that Iafrate will be out two to three weeks with a back injury.
``It depends on how you want to approach it,'' says Gill. ``Do you want (young players) to learn from their mistakes? They tried it last year (but missed the playoffs) and obviously felt they could do it with a bunch of veterans.''
Top Sharks draft picks have either been traded or squeezed into limited ice time. It's anybody's guess how the bodies will be filled when the older veterans retire.
``Dean Lombardi and Wayne Thomas (assistant general manager) made a commitment to get not just experienced guys, but experienced guys who have won,'' says Sutter, who was working on his farm in Alberta in October when he received the call to play.
``Hopefully it rubs off on the younger guys. I know there was a revolving door of coaches and players, but sometimes you have to make those decisions. The fortunate part for Ottawa, is that because they've had the top picks and they've drafted well, they can get there through patience.''
Belfour cleans slate with trade to Sharks: [EARLY Edition]
Guersch, Mike. Calgary Herald [Calgary, Alta] 31 Jan 1997: E.1.
Goalie Ed Belfour has spent much of his athletic life coming out of nowhere to help revitalize hockey teams.
He did it in high school. He did it in college. He did it with the Chicago Blackhawks. Now he hopes to do the same for the San Jose Sharks.
In fact, he can't help talking about that, at least publicly. Belfour said ``Stanley Cup'' six times during an interview in his Edmonton hotel room Tuesday night, and he wasn't even asked about it.
``It's really important to make the playoffs first, though,'' he said, laughing.
He has never missed the NHL playoffs, not in his six seasons as the Blackhawks' No.1 goalie. Belfour is a perfectionist, and not qualifying for the playoffs is a huge imperfection. And the past few months have been anything but perfect for Belfour, who struggled in net and had run-ins with the Chicago media and coaching staff while trade rumors dogged him.
He is eager to shove all the clutter off the table and start over. But if Belfour is the superhero to save the Sharks' season, he's more Batman than Superman. He doesn't have the neighborly demeanor of Arturs Irbe or the charisma of Kelly Hrudey. He is quiet, a little dark and very intense.
Is this really the perfect situation for Belfour? If his primary goal is to win a Stanley Cup, there might be teams closer to that goal seeking his services this summer, when he becomes an unrestricted free agent.
As expected, Belfour is talking up the Sharks big-time. But except for the risk of injury, is there any honest reason to think Belfour would sign a multi-year deal before the season ends?
``I'm a very loyal person,'' Belfour responds. ``When someone shows that they want me, and they think I'm a winner and put me in that situation, I show a lot of loyalty to that person.
``I think that's what (General Manager) Dean Lombardi's done. Because he traded for me, I'll do whatever it takes to be a winner for him and the organization.
``If we come to terms and it works out that I sign a multi-year deal, that would be great. If it doesn't work out...then I'll move on. But until that happens, I'm heart and soul a San Jose Shark.''
A slightly later version of the above article with additional notes from The Canadian Press:
Sharks Beef Up Their Bite: Belfour hopes he can revitalize team: [FINAL Edition]
Mike Guersch, San Jose Mercury News. Calgary Herald [Calgary, Alta] 31 Jan 1997: E.2.
By The Canadian Press
- Traded: From Chicago Blackhawks for D Michal Sykora, RW Ulf Dahlen, G Chris Terreri and conditional second-round draft pick in 1997.
- Reason: Wanted new contract worth $4 million US a year.
- Outlook: Sharks will use Belfour extensively in hunt for playoff berth.
- Career: Won 201 regular-season games for Chicago, another 35 in playoffs.
- Awards: Won two Venzina Trophies as NHL's top goalie.
- Quote: ``Eddie's an improvement to our hockey team. We've lost a lot of close games. I like our chances against any team in the league right now.'' -- San Jose defenceman Marty McSorley.
We can meanwhile look at why Belfour wanted to leave Chicago so eagerly:
Blackhawks trade goalie Belfour to Sharks: [FINAL Edition]
The Gazette [Montreal, Que] 26 Jan 1997: B.2.
Ed Belfour ripped his backup, complained about sharing a job that had been his for most of the 1990s, and told the Chicago Blackhawks that it would take a lot of cash to keep him past this season.
So Belfour, one of the best goaltenders in Chicago history, is now with the San Jose Sharks. And Jeff Hackett, his backup the last four seasons, has received a three-year contract extension from the Blackhawks.
Twice a winner of the Vezina Trophy as the National Hockey Leagues top goalie, Belfour was dealt early yesterday in what Chicago general manager Bob Pulford called one of the most difficult trades Ive had to make.
Arriving from San Jose are three players with undistinguished records goalie Chris Terreri, wing Ulf Dahlen and defenceman Michal Sykora as well as a conditional 1998 second-round draft pick.
"Eddie's been with us from the start of his career. I'm not happy with any deal when you trade a player that's been with us so long," Pulford said. "But this was the best deal we could make."
With Belfour being a free agent after this season, we had to make the deal now or else we would have gotten nothing. I had a long talk with Eddie, and he was out of our price range.
The Blackhawks announced the deal at about 2:30 a.m. yesterday after finalizing both the trade and Hacketts contract extension. They had lost 2-1 to Toronto several hours earlier.
Pulford called Terreri a decent goalie, Dahlen a solid forward, and Sykora a young guy with potential.
Not exactly ringing endorsements.
"Blackhawks Trade Goalie Belfour to Sharks." The Gazette: 0. Jan 26 1997. ProQuest. Web. 12 June 2014 .
Guersch, Mike. "Belfour Cleans Slate with Trade to Sharks." Calgary Herald: 0. Jan 31 1997. ProQuest. Web. 12 June 2014 .
Guersch, Mike. "Sharks Beef Up their Bite: Belfour Hopes He can Revitalize Team." Calgary Herald: 0. Jan 31 1997. ProQuest. Web. 12 June 2014 .
Warren, Ken. "Hungry Sharks show no Taste for Building on Youth: It's always Trade Time in Hustling San Jose." The Ottawa Citizen: 0. Feb 09 1997. ProQuest. Web. 12 June 2014 .
Last edited by JetsAlternate: 06-12-2014 at 07:43 PM.
One thing to note - Belfour was traded on January 25 - he suffered two road losses (played poorly in the first, and decently in the second), played well in a road win, and was then matching Patrick Roy save for save when he suffered a knee injury on February 1.
He had some bright spots when he returned, but my guess is that he never really recovered fully from that injury. His season was done for good (March 31st) with a bulging disc in his back, so he was probably having trouble with it then. He also wasn't happy there (going from a good team to a poor team and being constantly injured probably doesn't help).
Regardless, when the Sharks acquired Belfour, they were 17-24-5, which projects to about 30-43-7. They didn't finish a lot worse than that (27-47-8). Pulling from SHRP Sports, the Sharks were one point out of the Western Conference basement (Toronto) on January 25. I think that the Sharks were hoping that he would sign long-term - if you look at who they traded for him, and who they had as other options:
Belfour did not want to compete for a starting position with another goaltender, and he wanted to be on a winning team.
These were the reasons he demanded a trade from Chicago and the reason he left San Jose. The Blackhawks, as of January 24, 1997, were 17-25-8. Jeff Hackett received too many starts. These factors upset Belfour. As a result, unless the Blackhawks gave him a huge pile of money, he wasn't going to stay. This made the Hawks desperate to ship him out (as mentioned in article #4).
The Sharks thought they could turn themselves into a playoff team by building around veterans. They were also intent on making him their undisputed starting goaltender.
When Belfour was healthy with the Sharks, Kelly Hrudey only received three starts (Hrudey played 15 games while Belfour was out of the lineup -- from February 3rd to March 1st, and from April 1st to April 12th).
Last edited by JetsAlternate: 06-12-2014 at 08:05 PM.