For many Oiler fans, the act of Chris Pronger in requesting to be traded from Edmonton was unforgivable. The man signed a contract in good faith, but decided part way through that he didn't like the terms. He put the Oilers in a difficult place because he was a self centered jerk. Rumours were started about why he was leaving (many of them involving relationship scandals). People ranted and raved and the hate was thick across the Oilogosphere.
Now we see a situation where someone we deeply respect has done something similar and the expressions of joy are equally thick across the Oilogosphere. Should we be questioning our previous judgments here? [...] The facts as we know them are as follows:
- Pronger asked to be traded one year into a five year contract with the team he signed for. Smyth asked to be traded at the end of the fourth year of a five year contract
- Both [cited] 'Family Reasons'.
- We don't know the details behind Smyth's request, wheras it is reasonable to assume that Pronger's wife and perhaps family simply was not happy being in Edmonton, away from her family and in a city without the amenities she was used to. [...]
- Pronger had been traded for by the Oilers, Smyth had been traded for by the LA kings - both went to their destinations willingly (Smyth had a No Trade Clause and could have remained in Colorado where he signed his 5 year deal).
- Pronger was willing to go to a handful of destinations giving Lowe options in trading him. Smyth wanted to go to a very small number of destinations and perhaps only Edmonton. This greatly handcuffed Lombardi in getting something back in the trade.
- Both are well paid professionals and should have known what they were doing when signing a contract. Pronger is a villain and Smyth is a hero ;)
- Pronger was a key asset of the Oilers, Smyth is somewhat marginal and his cap hit is probably too big for what he brings to LA, so moving him is not too painful for them.
- Pronger apparently 'demanded' a trade while we are not sure how 'demand' oriented Smyth's request was. Bob McKenzie suggested that Smyth "indicated to the Kings that his preference would be to play next season in Edmonton if a trade can be worked out.". We don't know if Smyth would have happily played out his contract in LA if Lombardi were to indicate that the Kings were unable to get value for him. [...]
So, how different are the situations? [...] I, for one, never felt any ill will towards Pronger about the trade request. His wife was unhappy (I have a wife - keeping her happy is important!), he asked quietly and gave the Oilers options. [...] Smyth may have told Lombardi that he would continue to play in LA if a deal could not be worked out. Perhaps this is the difference, but still, [...] if you can find sympathy for Smyth, I think you need to find sympathy and forgiveness for Pronger. I still have a lot of 'fan hate' for Pronger and a lot of 'fan love' for Smyth and there are other things that I judge the nature of their character on (Pronger often sounds like a real jerk [...]). It's fun to hate villains and revere our heros, but deep down, I know that both are professionals going about their careers and I respect them both for their accomplishments. What say you, Edmonton fans?