Brendan Witt is not asking to be traded by the New York Islanders, nor is he pleading with the organization to keep him.
“It’s business,” the veteran defenseman said after practice at Iceworks today. “Everyone knows that. You just accept it and see what happens.”
Listening to Witt at his stall today, seems if he’s traded he’d be saddest about saying goodbye to Islanders fans. “I really like our fans,” he said. “They are so supportive through tough times, it’s amazing. They’ve been great to me and my family. And they crack me up. When they booed that poor man from the Town of Hempstead office on Saturday night, how could you not laugh”?
He’d also miss the region. “My wife (Salima) and I love it here,” Witt said. “I think that’s obvious. Let’s put it this way: if we didn’t love it here, I wouldn’t have signed a contract extension.” He laughed. “I guess if I hadn’t signed that extension, I probably would have been traded already.”
Possibly. There’s two ways of looking at it: with every team in the league concerned about the economy and their cap number, the $3 million owed Witt for each of the next two seasons could be an obstacle to acquiring him. On the other hand, a team can offer up a good pick or prospect knowing they have Brendan Witt locked up at a fair rate for two more seasons – instead of just six weeks plus playoffs.
“You can see both sides,” Witt said. “I’ll say it again – it’s business. It comes down to what teams want you, how badly they want you and what Garth (Snow) wants back. This is a rebuilding situation. I totally understand that. Give Snowy credit. He got a really good return for Campy and Mike Comrie.”
Witt is amused that the brouhaha he caused with his criticism of coach Scott Gordon’s aggressive system is still alive more than two months later. (“Can’t believe that s- – t’s still brought up”). But he also acknowledged that the kind of alterations he asked consideration for have since been instituted.
“For more than a month now I really like how our D has played and the way we’ve competed,” he said. “The coaches re-evaluated how we were playing. Other than that loss to Carolina last week, we’ve either won games or we’ve made life tough for our opponents. When you’ve struggled like we have and had the injuries we’ve had, you have to compete. We have, and I’m proud of that.”
As the March 4 deadline nears, Witt says there is no suspense, no worry over where he and his family will be on March 5. It’s just the hockey business, and he appreciates simply being in it.
“A bunch of us were sitting around the locker room the other day and it came up how, with everything going on in the world, we’re so lucky just to be working,” said the 34-year old defenseman. “I hope people don’t think we take that for granted. We’re lucky to have jobs, and then to have a job in something you love to do…well, we’re really fortunate.
“You’re not going to hear me complain. I’m not asking to leave. It’s out of my control. Whatever happens, I’ll make the best of it and I’m sure it will be for the best.”
ETC: No news from practice today. Scott Gordon was out and assistant coach John Chabot ran the show with the same line combinations and D pairings that ended the win over New Jersey.
Your thoughts on Brendan Witt and a possible deal? In Comments. Coming soon: some possible scenarios for a Witt trade.