Dionne Asks for a Trade, Goes to Rangers
The Kings traded away a big part of their history Tuesday, sending center Marcel Dionne, the second-highest scorer in National Hockey League history, to the New York Rangers.
The trade was made at Dionne’s request and was completed just before the league’s trading deadline of noon, PST.
“Marcel called me last night (Monday), and he asked me to move him,” King General Manager Rogie Vachon said. “We had a good talk. He said that he’s been here a long time. He said that he’d like a chance at the (Stanley) Cup before he retires. He’d been thinking about it for some time.”
Vachon said he called three or four general managers, including the Rangers’ Phil Esposito, and that the deal was made just before the trading deadline.
The Kings sent Dionne, minor league left winger Jeff Crossman and a third-round pick in the 1989 entry draft to the Rangers. New York gave up center Bobby Carpenter and defenseman Tom Laidlaw.
Jimmy Carson, who spent the afternoon at Dionne’s home, said the 16-year veteran grew tired of the Kings’ disappointing seasons.
Said Carson: "(Dionne) said, ‘This has been happening so many times. Other teams get over this, but the Kings keep going back to it.’ I think he just got tired of it.”
King majority owner Jerry Buss said Tuesday night that he did not think Dionne would have wanted out had Pat Quinn still been coach. Quinn, who was expelled from the NHL on Jan. 10, was known as a disciplinarian and was well-respected by the team.
“The Quinn thing has hurt us incredibly,” Buss said. “And this is just another way.”
Carol Dionne was preparing to drive her husband to the airport Tuesday night and sounded frazzled after a day of upheaval. She said Marcel would not come to the phone.
“I found out at 2:30 this afternoon,” she said. “I don’t think he wanted to leave. If they really wanted him here, they could have offered him things. He is not a greedy man. He’s tried very hard for 12 years here, and nothing has happened with the team.”
She said that her house had been full of King players and that King Coach Mike Murphy had come by. The phone, she said, had not stopped ringing.
“It’s hard to believe, but it’s happened,” she said. “Now, I think Marcel will be happy. They are going to give him, what do you say, carte blanche? He will be free to do what he’s supposed to do. I’m happy for Marcel.”
Although the deal was shocking to some, it was not surprising to those who had been watching Dionne’s progress this season. Dionne, 35, had been growing increasingly discouraged with the Kings, who are 26-33-8. The Rangers are 28-30-8.
Still, his teammates were shocked. “My legs are weak, I can’t believe it,” said goaltender Rollie Melanson. “I don’t think anybody knew it was going to happen.”
Dionne was especially close to the Kings’ three rookies. Luc Robitaille had lived in his home and Dionne found places for Steve Duchesne and Carson to live.
Carson and Robitaille stayed at the Dionne house until late evening. Carol Dionne said their goodbys to Dionne were emotional.
Duchesne had been out all afternoon and not heard of the trade until a reporter called.
“Really? I can’t believe it. He was like a God for us,” he said. “For myself, this is a big loss. No way I can believe this, I would say you are crazy.”
Bernie Nicholls said had he learned of the trade from his wife when he returned home from Tuesday’s practice.
“I’m totally shocked,” he said. “Of all the guys who could go, I never dreamed it would be Marcel. He’s getting pretty close to the end of his career, so if they could put him on a Stanley Cup team, I’m happy for him.”
There are indications that Dionne not only wanted to play for a team that had a chance to win the Stanley Cup, but also a team that was interested in having him play for a few more years. The Rangers have not won the Stanley Cup since 1940.
“I think what happened was that all he wanted to do was get some realization that someone wanted him to contribute and play,” said Marvin Goldblatt, who, along with agent Alan Eagleson, handled Dionne’s financial dealings. “Phil Esposito was interested.”
King captain Dave Taylor, who has been Dionne’s teammate for 10 years, said that Dionne had told him Tuesday that he was not happy with contract negotiations with King management.
“He tried to renegotiate his contract and add some years to his contract,” Taylor said. “The Kings were hesitant. He told me, ‘I think I can still do the job. I want to play more than next year.’ ”
Next season is an option year on Dionne’s contract. That contract is believed to be worth $600,000 a year, making Dionne one of the highest-paid players in the league. Goldblatt said, however, that Dionne took a pay cut to go to the Rangers but will make up for it in other ways. Esposito said that the contract was for “two or three years.”
Vachon said it is his policy not to negotiate contracts in the middle of the season, but he said he had talked to Eagleson regarding Dionne’s.
Dionne is expected to play for the Rangers tonight against Boston.
Dionne was quoted by the Associated Press as saying of the trade: “It was a combination of a few things. I talked with the GM to renegotiate and I could see that I was struggling a lot in the last couple of months. I didn’t think I was going to get anyplace (in the negotiations) so that’s why the trade happened.
“I’m still surprised that it all happened, but sometimes you have to stand up for what you believe and I think it’s time for me to go.”
Vachon said problems with Dionne’s contract were not the reason for the trade.
Dionne, in his 12th season with the Kings, is closing in on several NHL records. He is the second all-time scorer in the NHL with 1,673 points. Gordie Howe is first with 1,850.
Dionne signed with the Kings in 1975 as free agent and is the all-time King leader in points (1,307), goals (550), assists (757) and in games played (921).
Dionne has led the team in scoring in 9 of the last 11 seasons and was named the club’s most valuable player eight times.
The trade brings the Kings help at center and a tough defenseman.
Carpenter, 23, was selected third overall by the Washington Capitals in the 1981 entry draft, out of St. John’s Prep in Massachusetts. Carpenter became the first U.S.-born high school hockey player to go straight to the NHL.
In his sixth season, Carpenter had his best scoring year in 1984-85, when he became the first American to score more than 50 goals in the league, finishing with 53. He has averaged more than 70 points a season in his first five years.
Carpenter, 6-feet, 190 pounds, had played in 22 games with the Capitals this season, with five goals and seven assists, before being traded to the Rangers. In 28 games with New York, Carpenter has two goals and eight assists.
Laidlaw, 28, has spent his seven-year career with the Rangers after being drafted by New York in the seventh round of the 1978 amateur draft. The 6-2, 215-pound defenseman has 1 goal and 10 assists in 63 games with the Rangers this season.
Crossman, 22, was a 10th-round selection for the Kings in the 1984 entry draft. The 6-0, 200-pound left winger has had two goals and three assists in 56 games in New Haven.
MARCEL DIONNE’S CAREER RECORD
Regular Season Playoffs Season Team GP G A TP GP G A TP 1971-72 Detroit 78 28 49 77 -- -- -- -- 1972-73 Detroit 77 40 50 90 -- -- -- -- 1973-74 Detroit 74 24 54 78 -- -- -- -- 1974-75 Detroit 80 47 74 121 -- -- -- -- 1975-76 Kings 80 40 54 94 9 6 1 7 1976-77 Kings 80 53 69 122 9 5 9 14 1977-78 Kings 70 36 43 79 2 0 0 0 1978-79 Kings 80 59 71 130 2 0 1 1 1979-80 Kings 80 53 84 137* 4 0 3 3 1980-81 Kings 80 58 77 135 4 1 3 4 1981-82 Kings 78 50 67 117 10 5 8 13 1982-83 Kings 80 56 51 107 -- -- -- -- 1983-84 Kings 66 39 53 92 -- -- -- -- 1984-85 Kings 80 46 80 126 3 1 2 3 1985-86 Kings 80 36 58 94 -- -- -- -- 1986-87 Kings 67 24 50 74 -- -- -- -- Totals 1270 698 984 1673 -- -- -- --