The other deadline deal – completed about an hour after the Hamilton-Dakota trade – involved, oddly, two teams competing against one another. The New York Night and Hershey Bliss are both struggling to catch up with the Washington Galaxy in the East, but they have complementary weaknesses: New York’s defense is virtually non-existent, while Hershey has struggled to light the lamp. Therefore, the Bliss and Night rolled the dice on a deal that improved themselves as well as their strongest rival.
“When we’d finally worked out the terms of the deal, I think we both took a deep breath,” said New York GM Royce McCormick. “Sort of like, ‘Yeah, this makes me better, but is it gonna help them beat us out?’ I said, ‘Okay, this is the trade. Sure you want to do this?’ There was a beat at the other end, then, ‘Yeah, let’s do it.’” Hershey shipped D Vitaly Dyomin and F Glenn Reichler to New York in exchange for winger Lee Fleming and D Alvin Catlett.
In Dyomin, the Night pick up a rugged stay-home defender who instantly becomes the hardest hitter in their blue-line corps. “Everyone knows we like high-flying firewagon hockey, but we’ve had to be honest with ourselves,” said McCormick. “We realized that we need a little more grit if we’re going to make a run at this. Vitaly’s a grinder, but he’s also a capable puck-handler (3 assists in 37 games) who will fit well into our offense.”
Meanwhile, in Fleming, the Bliss add a scoring winger (7 goals, 3 assists in 35 games) who can slot in on the second or third line, hopefully providing some badly-needed offense on those line. “Lee’s a veteran guy with a polished game,” said Hershey GM Scott Lawrence. “He can create his own shot, or he can facilitate for our other guys.”
For New York, the hope is that Dyomin’s added defense can help sustain the Night’s recent winning streak and allow them to take out Washington. For Hershey, about to get a huge offensive upgrade in the return of LW Lance Sweet from a lengthy injury, coach “Chocolate Chip” Barber is betting that the Bliss will develop a newfound scoring surge that will help the team shoot up the standings.
The primary question is whether the deal comes too late for both clubs. New York has spent much of the season floundering at the bottom of the East; even with their recent winning run, they remain below .500 and trail Washington by 11 points. As for Hershey, they have plummeted in the standings in Sweet’s absence, and even a late streak might not be enough to catch the Galaxy.
“We’ve got to get everyone back healthy and take our best shot,” said Barber. “The rest will sort itself out.”