Amid the flurry of activity at the trading deadline, with contenders making both small and large moves to load up for a playoff push, one deal wasn’t like the others. It was a trade between two non-contending teams that involved no big-name players. Arguably, there was only one reason that the deal was made: to satisfy Diego Garcia’s trade demand.
Garcia, a 26-year-old winger, has had a productive season with the New York Night’s minor-league affiliate in Utah; his 41 points this season led the team. But when it became clear that the Night had no intention of promoting him to the big club, Garcia grew disenchanted and demanded to be traded.
Three weeks later, New York accommodated Garcia’s demand, sending him to the Boston Badgers, an expansion club that is thirsty for offense.
“We took Diego’s demand seriously,” said Night coach Nick Foster. “I’ve always been straight with my guys about my plans for them.” After Garcia made his demand, Foster said that he called the disgruntled winger to talk about his place in the organization. “I told him my thinking and how I saw our forward situation, and what I thought he’d need to do to crack the lineup here,” the coach told reporters. “After we talked, Diego felt like he’d prefer to go somewhere that he would have an opportunity right away, and we looked for a chance to make that happen.”
In Garcia, Boston acquires an undeniably talented player, but one whose lackluster work habits and prickly personality have caused him to wear out his welcome in multiple cities. He posted 9 goals and 22 assists over pieces of three SHL seasons with Dakota, Hamilton, and New York. He has a reputation as a player who can contribute on offense, especially as a passer. However, he is considered weak on defense, which makes him an odd fit for a Badgers team that is supposedly built around defense and hard work.
On the other hand, Boston’s need for offense is so acute – they are last in the league in goals scored by a considerable margin – that they may be willing to explore unorthodox choices. Head coach Cam Prince was an assistant in New York during Garcia’s time there, and he likes what the winger brings to the table. “Diego is a talented guy who has the explosiveness to make things happen,” said Prince. “We could use a little extra pace and a spark on offense, and I think he can give us that.”
In exchange for Garcia and 19-year-old defenseman Horst Hasenkamp, the Badgers sent the Night a pair of players. The prime return for New York is 29-year-old defenseman Shane Gladchuk, who put up 2 goals and 10 assists in 40 games with Boston. Gladchuk, who is in his second tour of duty with New York, is expected to join Andy Ruger on the Night’s bottom defensive pairing.
In addition, the Night acquired Alvin Fawn, a 19-year-old prospect who scored 7 points over 36 games in the minors this season.
“Shane is one of those guys who doesn’t grab the headlines, but he does a good steady job,” said Foster. “We’re looking to tighten up in our own end, and Shane’s just the guy we need to help with that. If everything works out the way I think it will, I hope we’ll be able to lock him up long-term.”