Parting is such sweet sorrow. Our friends at the Bob and Dan Show on Sports Radio 1310 The Ticket reinforced as much this afternoon when they had now former Dallas Stars great Steve Ott on the radio to discuss the trade, what lies ahead of him and what he leaves behind.
Ott had been the subject of trade rumors at the deadline in February and again in June leading up to free agency, but that didn't stop the news from being a jolt to Steve and his family.
"I was still surprised," Ott told BaD radio. "It's a shock any time in happens. Obviously there's been a lot of smoke in the last six months since the trade deadline or so, so it wasn't a total shocker, I guess you could say, because of all the smoke and rumors that were going on, but then when you finally get the call that you've been traded or moved then it obviously sunk in and everything flashed right quick, like anything else in life.
Like many of us who were shocked on that day, Ott had his first indication that something was up via his cell phone.
"I think (Joe) tried to call me but my phone works like junk out here in Canada so he sent me a text and I called him back."
Did he know the text meant he'd been traded?
"Absolutely. I think I looked right at my girlfriend and said "we've been traded", and I said let me go call Joe."
He was wistful in trying to describe his feelings about the move, making frequent references to how much he loved it here, but even now nearly two weeks removed seems a bit taken aback by the whole thing...
Much, much more after the jump...
"The fans, the community, you kind of go down the list...my teammates, every part of it..I have the utmost respect for the Dallas area and community and always will and always have. You never know where life takes you and you continue to move on, but it's part of the business."
Sturm asked Ott if most players look at themselves as employees of the NHL and not of specific franchises, not allowing themselves to get too attached in the case that something like this happens. Ott replied as Stars fans might like him to, saying that he feels deeply ingrained in the area and the franchise. It's clear he was very emotionally attached to being a Dallas Star.
"I've been settled in Dallas since 2000," continued Ott. "I have a house there, my girlfriend's from there, my daughter was born there. There's so much greatness that's come out of the Dallas community for myself and you know...I was a boy when I first came to Dallas and I'm leaving now more of a man, I guess you can say, hopefully a more matured man. Dallas will always hold a huge piece of my heart. I went to war for 600-ish games for Dallas. A lot of blood sweat and tears. I will never forget that and that'll always be with me and I'll carry that experience throughout."
As in February, Ott was diplomatic about the rumors and eventual trade, trying to look at the build up as complimentary of what kind of players he and what he offers to general managers desirous of his services. His diplomacy (off the ice of course) even extended to what the Stars got back for him.
"I gain a lot of confidence from that," Ott said of being desired by so many other teams. "And I got moved for a heck of a player. Derek Roy is a heck of a hockey player. He's top two line centerman. I played against Derek since Juniors, a lot of games. I know in return what Dallas got in the trade and that's the business. Obviously moving Ribeiro you're going to need a top-line center to continue to move and being a trade asset, that's where I think it all went down and how everything transpired over the last couple of years."
Bob and Dan then made the observation that his affordable contract, when weighed against what he brings and how many tools he possesses, made him an attractive trade target, but it was Ott who agreed to the terms, making giving a team "a hometown discount" a bit of a double edged sword. The supposed affordable nature of his contract being a point of view affected by 2012 perceptions rather than the thoughts of those around here in 2010 when the deal was made, but I digress...
"On the question of home town discount, do I think I did a couple of years ago? Yeah, I actually do think that I could have got more money out in free agency . I was willing to show I was a Dallas Star and wanted to continue to be a Dallas Star and they weren't willing to give me a no trade clause at the time, but that was something that I had to live with to make sure I stayed a Dallas Star."
Ott's departure leaves a hole in the team's "heart" but also their peskiness, as they would tell you last season. Couple it with the loss of Adam Burish and Sheldon Souray on the back end and it has many worried if what Buffalo was seeking this summer (grit) is what Dallas will be in search of the next.
"Souray made guys play bigger," said Ott of Dallas' changes. "He made guys play tougher as well so losing him - Yeah, he's a big tough guy. Burish too. He battled, he grinded, he's a hard work ethic guy. They still have guys. Brenden Morrow's a heck of a competitor. He's still there. Also you've got guys like Mark Fistric on the back end and whatnot. Losing those type of guys and bringing in three super highly skilled guys obviously changes the dimension of that team completely."
That's nice of Ott to say, but it is still an item of intrigue (concern?) heading into next season.
But what of his Dallas Stars loyalties? Was Brett Hull's skate in the crease now that he's changed locales?
"I don't know," he laughed. "The Stanley Cup was already given. I think we all know the answer to that one."
Sabres players saying it was a good goal? You have to like that, Buffalo.
Not being one to go quietly, Ott took one more good natured jab at Mark Fistric on the way out in discussion of who's going to take the picture in the pre-game routine with the Dr. Pepper Stick Kid.
"Fistric would be a good option as long as the kid could see his head on the board as well," he jested. "At least they'd get a chance to play with Shrek there for a couple seconds."
Hearing him laugh and have some good Dallas Stars fun one last time makes it all the more painful, but he's moving on and so must Stars fans.
"To all the people that are listening, I truly love the city, love the town and I am grateful that I had the opportunity. I'm ready for my new adventure and I am excited to get some new cheers from fans in Buffalo as well."
I think he can expect some "old" cheers from those of us at the American Airlines Center on March 23rd (or whenever, thanks to the CBA, the Sabres first come to Dallas).