Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

The New Deal: Janney's Back Center Returns in Trade with Canucks

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

The New Deal: Janney's Back Center Returns in Trade with Canucks

Article excerpt

Unorthodox. Unique. Weird. Unusual. Crazy.

These were some of the terms used to describe the stunning turn of events that brought Craig Janney back to the Blues on Monday.

The Blues reacquired Janney from the Vancouver Canucks in one of two deals general manager Ron Caron engineered before the National Hockey League trade deadline.

First, Caron acquired defenseman Alexei Kasatonov, 34, from Anaheim for prospect Maxim Bets, the Blues' top draft pick last summer.

Then, he made that deal a footnote by sending defensemen Jeff Brown and Bret Hedican and rookie winger Nathan LaFayette to Vancouver for Janney, exactly one week after Janney reluctantly became Canucks property.

On March 14, arbitrator George Nicolau awarded Janney and a second-round pick in the summer entry draft to Vancouver as compensation for Petr Nedved. The Canucks had asked for winger Brendan Shanahan, Janney's friend and teammate. The Blues offered Janney to protect Shanahan, perhaps their best player.

Janney refused to report, threatened legal action and asked to be traded. The Canucks obliged, but no one could have predicted that they'd trade him back to the Blues in a deal that Caron said "developed over 24 to 36 hours."

"It's kind of unorthodox the way everything happened to unfold," LaFayette said. "What can I say? I'm shocked more than anything."

So was Hedican, 23.

"I didn't have a clue," Hedican said. "It is kind of crazy the way Nedved came here and Craig went there, and the next thing you know Jeff Brown, Nathan and I are going to Vancouver."

In essence, the Blues acquired Nedved, a 22-year-old center with franchise-player possibilities, for Brown, Hedican, LaFayette and the No. 2 pick. "That's the bottom line," Caron said. "It's very unusual."

Even for the Blues. But strangely, there's a certain symmetry to these gyrations. The Blues got the No. 2 center they needed, dealing from their strength at defense and including youth to make up for the Canucks' loss of such a young player. They also got a strong defensive player in Kasatonov.

"They originally wanted to move a defenseman for Nedved, and the ultimate turn of events is that's what happened," LaFayette said. "I guess they might have had a master plan."

"Are you kidding me?" one Blues player asked. "It's silly to even suggest they had a master plan."

Still, the Blues' final offer before the Nedved case went to arbitration was similar to the deal that transpired Monday. The Blues offered Brown, winger Kevin Miller, one of four prospects - Bets, David Roberts, Craig Johnson or Jamie Rivers - and either a fourth-round pick this year or a third-round pick next year.

"Didn't I offer a better package before going to arbitration?" Caron asked. "Better is in the eye of the beholder, but I thought my offer was just as good or better than this one."

At the time, Canucks general manager Pat Quinn wasn't listening to offers. …

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