You never really ever can prepare yourself for it. Even players who know almost certainly know that they’re going to be moved are always taken a little off guard by the announcement. In the case of Jeff Harvey, Aaron Rome and Jason Jaffray, to say that the trade that saw them headed to Swift Current in exchange for B.J. Boxma and Duncan Milroy, surprise would be perhaps the understatement of the year.
Even Jeff Harvey, who had been the subject of trade rumors of late, didn’t see this one coming, at least not at this particular point in the season.
“I had no idea why they called me into the office,” said Harvey before the former ICE players left for their new surroundings on the Prairies. “I thought maybe it was that I was playing well after three wins. Then they tell me I was traded. I was speechless.”
By his own admittance Harvey had agreed that his season hadn’t gone the way he would’ve liked but of late he felt something was different, that his game was improving.
“I thought I’d turn the corner,” said Harvey. “I thought I’d started to turn it around here but obviously they felt different in that they want more experience in that position.”
Aaron Rome expressed that same shock but seemed somewhat more at ease with the transaction. He reasoned that being traded once before that landed him in Kootenay last season from Saskatoon had prepared him somewhat. That being said, the detection of sadness at leaving his former teammates was still glaringly evident.
“I didn’t really expect it but I guess you try and prepare yourself for it all the time,” said Rome at the same gathering that could be coined a last supper for a team that has been dramatically altered. “I was really shocked because it was such a big trade. Probably the biggest to happen in the WHL this year but I’ve been through it before and it’s a little easier in the fact that I’ve got two other guys that I know going there so I think it’ll make the transition fairly smooth.”
Both Rome and Harvey were eager to help their new club and looked at the deal with cautious optimism. With Rome being ranked highly for this year’s NHL Draft and Harvey still eligible and trying hard to get noticed by the radar of NHL scouts, both viewed the trade as a chance at a fresh start. “I think I can step in and play a bigger role than I have here,” said Rome. “My role here wasn’t as big as I would’ve liked it but all hockey players want as big a role as they can have, that’s just natural, I’m competitive.”
“It’s a big year,” Rome added. “I want to play a lot and go to Swift Current and show them that I can play in every situation and contribute to the team.” Harvey sees the trade as a chance to get his junior career back on track and feels in Swift Current that he’ll get an honest shot. “It’s a good situation going to Swift Current,” said Harvey. “Expectations maybe aren’t as high (in Swift Current) as everyone here knows what kind of goaltenders they’ve had here.
“I feel I can go there and play my game and be a lot more relaxed. Hopefully I’ll win the number one job there with me and Todd Ford battling it out and they said if I play well, it’ll be mine. I can’t ask for much more than that.”
Are there any hard feelings left over from leaving the ICE for the much-maligned goaltender? His answer was muted somewhat, thinking that it was a case of too little, too late. “I felt that this weekend was a start. I’d thought that I’d start playing more now. I took some big strides forward, I thought, with the three wins in three nights. I felt like it was starting to go good. I’ve just got to carry that over to Swift Current.”
Quick Hits – Jason Jaffray was regrettably gone before I was able to talk to him about the trade. Accounts from his former mates said that Jaffray was visible shaken and upset by the trade. Adding to the news of the trade was the close call that Jaffray was involved in his car en route to Swift Current the next morning. Due to icy conditions Jaffray skidded out and hit the ditch. Physically okay, Jaffray crawled out his car window and waited for a tow truck. Ending the story on a positive and fitting note, Jaffray was in the lineup against the Moose Jaw Warriors the same night in Swift Current. Jaffray scored two goals including the winner in a 3-1 victory and was named the game’s first star.