The madness of the NHL trade deadline in Philadelphia, which passed at 3:00 p.m. on Monday, did not limit itself to the Flyers’ offices at the Wells Fargo Center.
It touched Penn’s campus as well.
After scheduling quirks forced the Calgary Flames away the Wells Fargo Center to Penn, a pair of the squad’s sessions at the University’s Class of 1923 Arena quickly descended into choas as the team’s management wheeled and dealed earlier this week.
On Sunday, the Flyers hosted their annual Flyers Wives’ Carnival, a massive charity event that took up the entire floor at the Wells Fargo Center and featured a Ferris wheel that fit inside the building by — quite literally — an inch. A Sixers game scheduled for Monday evening rendered the ice unavailable that day as well.
Thus, Calgary was forced to dress in the Wells Fargo locker room and bus over to University City in full uniform.
But not every player that bussed over with the team would return.
Mere minutes into Sunday’s noon practice, Flames’ coach Bob Hartley received an ominous phone call, the purpose of which came to light when he tapped left winger Curtis Glencross on the shoulder.
As the team briefly left the ice to say its goodbyes, a realization spread over the assemblage of Calgary media: Glencross had been traded.
Not even the players knew Glencross’ destination; a few asked the writers on scene for updates from their Twitter feeds.
Hours later, after it emerged that he was heading to Washington, D.C., to join the Capitals, the Flames’ former alternate captain reflected on the surreal scene.
“It was tough when I heard the news, and I don’t think its really set in yet,” Glencross told reporters. “It’ll set in, I’m sure, on my three-hour drive to Washington.”
A day later, it appeared that the same scene was about to repeat itself.
Midway through practice, Hartley picked up the phone again, skating off to the side for several minutes. As Hartley handed off the phone to defenseman Dennis Wideman, the rumors begin to swirl once again in the stands.
This time, smoke did not give way to fire. Wideman later admitted on Canadian TV network TSN that he was playing a prank on the media.
Penn’s Class of 1923 Arena itself provided opportunities for levity. Given the rink’s limited bench area — it certainly wasn’t designed to be an NHL practice facility when construction began in 1968 — players found the task of finding personal space difficult when they were forced off the ice for five-on-five drills.
“Is this the penalty box?” asked defenseman Corey Potter as he hopped the low wall onto the already cramped bench. The answer to that question: no. In fact, the arena lacks penalty boxes entirely.
“There’s not enough room here!” defenseman Raphael Diaz added as he struggled to find the vaguest semblance of personal space.
Many of the assembled Calgary media members found the arena freezing, shivering under peacoats. Perhaps they were brutally aware of the irony, considering their origins in southern Alberta.
If any member of the Flames was in his element, it was rookie left winger Johnny Gaudreau, who was born in southern New Jersey and went to Gloucester Catholic High School, just across the Delaware River from Philadelphia.
Gaudreau returned home to a hero’s welcome. A box of 30 friends and family saw the budding star notch an assist on the game-winning goal in Calgary’s 3-2 victory over the Flyers on Tuesday, and Gaudreau returned to his old high school following practice on Monday to see his jersey retired in a formal ceremony.
Despite his local roots, Gaudreau only made his debut on Penn’s campus that weekend.
“I had never skated there before,” he said. “I guess there’s a lot of history in that rink, and it was cool to practice there.”
And the cold?
“Oh no, it’s definitely a colder one in that rink.”
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