Four years ago, the Islanders had a deal in place at the deadline to send Chris Osgood to St. Louis for Justin Papineau and a third round pick. I heard about the trade not from Mike Milbury but from Canadian broadcaster (and former Islanders goalie) Glenn Healy.
I went to Mike and told him about the report from Heals. Mike said the deal was just about done and I should get ready to announce it soon.
A few minutes later, Glenn called me and said his latest info was the deal was now Osgood and a third round pick for Papineau and a second round pick. I said I didn't think so, but would check with Milbury.
Me: Mike, did you tweak the deal? Healy's saying it's now Ozzy and a third for Papineau and a second.
MM: How the (heck) would he know that? We just changed the deal two minutes ago!
This is my way of telling you that, although the staff at NEWYORKISLANDERS.COM prides itself on giving Islanders fans the news first, trade deadline day is the one day a year I just cannot guarantee it.
The battle between TSN and Sportsnet, along with the Canadian websites and newspapers, to get the scoop first cannot be compared to anything, anything in sports in the United States. Not even the obsessive coverage of the Yankees. (BTW, did we get Santana yet?)
I remember my buddy Joe Micheletti being asked to sit in for Sportsnet's deadline coverage because the Islanders happened to be in Toronto that day. I don't think Joe knew what hit him. At one point he called me: "Chris, this is nuts. Ya got anything for me...please?"
I'll share with you my advice to Mike and now Garth. If we make a deal and prefer that our respected departed player hears the news from the Islanders and not through the media, once the trade is agreed to in principle the GM should call the player. If he waits for the deal to be 100% official and blessed by the NHL, chances are the player will find out from the press. That's what happened to Brendan Witt after a decade in Washington, and I truly believe it was through no fault of the Capitals.
On trade deadline day, the NHL is leakier than a six-month old boy.