On Friday afternoon, the Hurricanes dealt third line center Eric Belanger to the Nashville Predators in exchange for Josef Vasisek. "The Czech Condor" played five seasons in Raleigh before being traded to Nashville straight up for Scott Walker over the summer. In 2003-04, JoVa led a very bad Canes team with 19 goals. He became my favorite player, and his was the first player sweater I ever bought.
I wore the 63 VASICEK sweater to 26 regular season games and 14 playoff games last season, and although he was injured or scratched for most of it, it served me very well. I also pointed out that the number of days between the Hurricanes final regular season game and Game 7 of the SCF was 63. I had a beard growth of 63 days and the sweater number to match. I claimed then that fate was working on my behalf.
Over the summer, as I had time to reflect, I was glad to see JoVa go and excited that the Canes got Scott Walker out of the deal. I'm not so sure that I'm excited about the Condor's return, but I'll definitely be "unretiring" the 63 VASICEK sweater on February 15 when the Rangers come to town. I've worn the 11 WILLIAMS sweater to all my games this year, with mixed results.
As far as the actual trade is concerned, I'm not sure that either team benefits more than the other. It's just a change. Eric Belanger has really one quality that I love. He's a very good faceoff guy. Aside from that, he has tons of breakaway chances and has other fantastic scoring chances, but he has a real problem finishing. That whole Maxim Afinogenov thing. Vasicek had lost his scoring touch here, but I always applauded his size and strength. Maybe things will be different this go-round. Maybe we'll see the old Joe. I certainly hope so.
Vasicek has played in just 38 games with the Preds this season, amassing 13 (4/9) points. Belanger, who has been ice cold of late, has played in 56 games for the Canes, netting 20 (8/12) points. In terms of PPG, this is a miniscule drop-off for the Canes, but they'll be getting a guy who is already familiar with "the system" here, and a guy that the fans like. "Frenchy" never caught on with the fans, and I get the impression that he never caught on in the room, either. Maybe I'm way off mark there, but that's my impression.
JoVa will presumably join the team in Minnesota Saturday night. Due to the injuries to Erik Cole and Scott Walker, the Canes have also recalled Ryan Bayda from Albany of the AHL.
I can't wait to see how this pans out.
5 years ago