When former Lightning general manager Jay Feaster acquired defenseman Darryl Sydor at the 2004 trade deadline, it turned into a key piece for the Stanley Cup run.
Feaster liked the deal right away but felt a lot more comfortable that afternoon after getting a vote of confidence while on the team bus.
"I was in the front seat right behind the driver," Feaster said. "Our captain, Dave Andreychuk, got on, looked at me, put his hand on my shoulder and squeezed my shoulder. He was just nodding his head with a very serious look on his face.
"I've always said, it was right then and there that was the captain saying, 'This is good for the room; the boys like this.' "
Like Feaster then, current general manager Steve Yzerman is looking for a veteran defenseman before Monday's trade deadline. But as much as GMs want to add to put their team over the hump, they also have the dilemma of how a trade will affect the chemistry of a tight team. Is a player getting subtracted from the core? Whose minutes are affected by the addition?
Feaster said that one year with the Lightning he stood pat at the deadline partly due a Times story in which players said they didn't want to break up team chemistry.
"It's really a balancing act," said Feaster, now the Lightning's executive director of community hockey. "I think you really need to know your locker room. It's important that you're having regular conversations with your coach to know what the chemistry is with the group, who the leaders are — not just the leaders who wear a letter but guys who are the glue guys."
In Feaster's case, he gave up Alexander Svitov, a 2001 first-round pick, to Columbus. Feaster said Svitov "was not a (coach) John Tortorella kind of player," which made trading him easier, as did Svitov not being a core piece of the team or a "glue guy."
"I didn't think we were going to hurt ourselves in terms of the subtraction coming out of the room," Feaster said.
Yzerman said he's not a fan of giving away premium assets, such as a first-round pick or a prospect, for a player who is going to be a free agent this summer. Does Yzerman draw from his forward depth to add a defenseman with maybe a longer term?
Feaster said a contrast to the Sydor deal is when he traded veteran forward Fredrik Modin to Columbus for goalie Marc Denis in June 2006. The Lightning needed a No. 1 goalie, but it gave up Modin, a part of its Cup team and a glue guy.
"A huge subtraction from that room," Feaster said.
Lightning fans know how that one turned out. Denis struggled in two seasons, continuing the carousel in net. Feaster said deals, whether they work or not, can have a mental impact, too.
"It's important for guys to recognize you're going for it," Feaster said, "that you're serious about getting them help, because certainly as a group, they know our perceived weaknesses. They know where we need more depth."
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The Lightning is a very young, close team, one that can be good for several years. You can sense players would like to see the team make a move if it would help but are confident in the group they have. And veteran defensemen such as Sydor aren't easy to find.
"I always use to say, 'Unfortunately, you can't go down to Walmart or the Dollar Store and get one of those guys,' " Feaster said. "You need to find two willing partners."
And have a good feel of your locker room.