The Greatest Deal Ever Made!
No Trade Deadline Day is complete without reminiscing of the best deadline deal - ever!
It would be sinful to allow Trade Deadline Day to come and go without commemorating THE greatest deadline deal ever.
Center Butch Goring going to the New York Islanders from the L.A. Kings on Deadline Day, 1980, in exchange for defenseman Dave Lewis and right wing Billy Harris.
"That deal didn't win us a Stanley Cup," said Bill Torrey, the Isles boss who engineered the swap. "It won us FOUR Stanley Cups."
It certainly did.
Twice the Isles had been favored to win The Cup -- in 1978 and 1979 -- and twice they failed.
Their first crack at it was derailed by an underdog Toronto team that beat the Nassaumen in overtime of Game Seven. At Nassau Veterans' Memorial Coliseum, no less.
A year later, it was worse. Freddie Shero's upstart Rangers booted The Boys From Nassau in six games and didn't even need OT to clinch the tourney.
"We were embarrassed," said Red Wings Executive V.P. Jim Devellano, then Torrey's chief scout. "Losing to the Rangers was a blow. They were our biggest rivals and we had to take action."
As the 1979-80 season unfolded, Torrey and Devellano studied the field, seeking the proper blend that would turn things in their favor.
"Before we got Butch," Devellano recalled, "we made a couple of moves that were overlooked by many. But each of these played a part in our ultimate success -- the Dynasty."
First, Bow Tie Bill traded a fourth-line forward, Mike Kaszycki to Washington for defenseman Gord Lane.
Torrey: "What made Gordie special was his toughness. Granted we had a good, solid defense but we didn't have a genuine intimidator like Lane. And I do mean intimidator."
Nobody knew it at the time but the Torrey-Devellano duo were laying the foundation for a deal. Lane was just one of the cornerstones.
The second was another defenseman, Ken Morrow, a hero of America's Gold Medal Miracle on Ice. An Islanders draftee, the Michigan product arrived in Uniondale as soon as the 1980 games ended in Lake Placid.
"With Gordie and Kenny now in the fold," Jimmy D noted, "we had a surplus of defensemen and were in a position to deal one of our blue-liners."
As it happened, Torrey chose reliable-but-expendable veteran Dave Lewis.
But he needed more than that.
"I realized," Torrey went on, "that if I was to trade with L.A. and was to get Butch Goring, I'd have to part with a solid forward. In the end it turned out to be Billy Harris."
Make no mistake, it was a difficult decision made in difficult times. Lewis was beloved by management, teammates and fans. Harris was Bow Tie Bill's original pick in the expansion draft.
"We figured we covered any defense gaps with Lane," said Devellano, "and the offense was covered once Butch got to Uniondale."
To say that the deal was a tonic for the team would be an understatement. The moment Goring put on the Isles jersey, the team took off, finishing the season with a rare surge that was a portent of things to come.
"No doubt about it," Torrey concluded, "but Butch was the final piece to the puzzle. The rest is history; with Goring in place to take the load off Bryan Trottier we won four Cups and 19 straight playoff series."