April 3, 2003
Anaheim winger huge boost to team after deadline deal
By JIM MATHESON
The Edmonton Journal
Did anybody stop dead in their tracks when the Anaheim Mighty Ducks
acquired Steve Thomas from Chicago for a fifth-round 2003 draft pick
on March 11?
Thomas had four goals in 69 games for the Blackhawks. Let's face it,
he seemed like a throwaway back on NHL trade deadline day.
But not now. Thomas, who went 50 games with Chicago without a goal
this season, has eight goals in 10 games for the Ducks, including two
in overtime, where nobody has ever done it better. He has 13 career
regular-season overtime goals, an NHL record, and one more than Mats
Sundin, Jaromir Jagr and Sergei Fedorov.
He beat Nashville in OT on Tuesday, after scoring on his first-ever
penalty shot in his 19 NHL years, earlier in the game. "I just don't
know what's going on," said Thomas, who's found his touch again after
it went stone-cold in Chicago.
Hard to believe, but Thomas has turned out to be the best pickup at
the deadline. Even Anaheim GM Bryan Murray admits he never saw it
"I've coached against him for what seems like 100 years," said
Murray, "and he's the kind of guy you hate to play against but love
to have on your team. I mainly thought he'd be a competitor for us."
Sure, he'll bang a little, score a little, use those 1,200 games to
show other guys how to play. But score?
Not after what anybody saw in Chicago. Thomas had become a plumber.
"With a lot of older players that's what goes first, the hands," said
Murray. "To me, Steve was still skating and trying hard but couldn't
score. I remember having Doug Jarvis on my Washington team, and when
he got older, he started losing faceoffs. That's when I noticed his
So Murray seemed fully aware of what he was getting from the
Blackhawks, and that's probably why he only had to give up a fifth-
round draft pick. "Those guys might only score eight to 10 goals (a
year)," said Murray. Thomas has that many in three weeks in Anaheim.
"I look at Steve like I look at Radek Dvorak in Edmonton. I had
Dvorak in Florida and he was good for us, but when he played in New
York ... maybe it was the environment, maybe there was a lack of
importance (on his role), but ..." nothing much happened for Thomas
or Dvorak this year in Chicago or New York.
Dvorak wasn't just a blip on the radar screen at the trade deadline,
though. He was young, only 24. Thomas, who's been playing in Anaheim
with Rob Niedermayer and Russian rookie Stanislav Chistov, was 39.
Getting Thomas is one of those classic addition-without-subtraction
deals. "I wanted a couple of veterans at the deadline and also got
Rob Niedermayer, a big body, whose only knock is what he makes ($2
million)," said Murray. "In Steve, I thought I was getting a quality
person, a guy whose face always seems to be beat up, and a guy who's
scored a lot of big goals over the years."
Thirteen in overtime. His winner against the Predators came after
showing off the footspeed of a 19-year-old, not somebody who'll be 40
in July. He redirected a pass by goalie Tomas Vokoun for his 409th
Almost everybody who gets dealt at the deadline has a burst of new
life, of course, but it only lasts three or four games and then they
fall back into old habits. Thomas has eight goals in those 10 Anaheim
games after scoring just 23 in 160 games over three years.
Where it came from nobody knows, but Murray looks like the smartest
GM in the league this morning.
STARS' MODANO INJURED
Dallas Stars centre Mike Modano, the team's leading scorer, left
Wednesday night's game against the Anaheim Mighty Ducks in the second
period with what the team called a lower-body injury.
The Stars didn't elaborate on Modano's injury, but he appeared to be
limping when he walked toward the locker room. It was unclear if
Modano had a leg injury or had strained his back. He returned briefly
before the end of the second period, but was only on the ice for a
moment before leaving for good. Modano initially left the ice after
being shoved awkwardly to the ice by Adam Oates after a faceoff
between the two early in the second period.