"Happy the trade deadline is over" - Erica Lundmark's Twitter feed, 6:47 PM March 3
About a week before the trade deadline, I tweeted that the Calgary Flames were shopping now-Toronto Maple Leaf Jamie Lundmark. Shortly afterward, the following notice appeared in my inbox: "Erica Lundmark is now following you on Twitter."
It didn't take a genius to figure out who she was.
Originally from Philadelphia, she went to college in New York City and was working as a pharmaceutical rep upon meeting the 1999 Ranger draft pick in Manhattan. They have two boys now - Austin and Karter - with a third child on the way.
Sometimes, you forget the things we report have a huge effect on the people involved. On trade deadline day 1998, I happened to be in the right place at the right time to see Jason Smith's equipment wheeled out of Maple Leaf Gardens. That's how I found out he'd been traded to the Edmonton Oilers. The Score was still known as Headline Sports back then, and I called a producer, Brian Spear (who also works at HNIC now).
Two minutes later, Spear called me back, a little worried. "Are you sure about this?"
"Yes," I said. "They are wheeling his gear out of here and I checked with someone. Why?"
"I just called (Jason Smith) and he has no idea."
Last to know
It would be two hours before someone notified Smith, and it was that day I realized the whole scenario is horribly unfair to the players. That was reinforced in 2006, when Brendan Witt allowed Hockey Night to spend deadline day with him. He started getting phone calls from media telling him he'd been traded to Nashville one hour before getting official word. He was really hurt and it was tough to watch.
Unfortunately, the information gets out there. Just ask Olli Jokinen.
"There are more rumours than I can keep track of," Erica Lundmark said last Thursday, during the second intermission of Toronto's victory over Tampa Bay. But she remembers the first one.
"When we were dating, Jamie was going to be included in a trade to Washington for Jaromir Jagr, but it fell through. It was a good thing, because things wouldn't have worked [between us] if he had gone. It was too soon."
During the lockout, Lundmark played 14 games for Bolzano HC in Italy.
"That was the first slap in the face. I had to ask myself, 'Am I going to do this for real?' I had a career. I wanted to be a successful businesswoman," she said. "I decided to support him in following his dream ... Be there for him no matter what he was put through. He'd been working on it since he was two years old."
Erica says she will at some point resume the pursuit of her professional goals, but, "I joke with him: 'You ruined everything I wanted for me. Now I'm in all these weird places.'"
None of them, apparently, was worse than Bolzano, staying in what she called "a crack house. I still remember the smell."
Moving a sport in its own
Since being traded by the Rangers in 2005, he's played for five NHL teams (including two stops in Calgary), four AHL teams and in Russia.
"I loved Russia," Erica says, "But that's not what he's been working for since being a child. He was making better money there, but asked to leave. He joined Lake Erie on an AHL contract."
Erica Lundmark is right in saying that would result in a significant pay cut for her husband. A number of players who would be at around $100,000 in the AHL could make much more in Russia. Two have said they earned between $750,000-$1 million.
When friends alerted her to my Tweet last month, she wasn't as upset as she was hopeful.
"We liked Calgary, but for us, a trade wasn't the worst thing. It would be more upsetting to be back in the minors. Jamie just wants a regular job in the NHL. He's not going for a million-dollar contract. He'd play for free as long as he was in one spot."
A trade would also have reunited the Lundmark family. Jamie began the season in Abbotsford, where Erica and the boys stayed during his call-ups to the Flames.
"We didn't want to move to Calgary because what happens if he's sent down? There've been times where we've flown to meet him in an NHL city, only to find out he's been sent down and we've passed each other in the air."
Jamie Lundmark scored his first goal as a Maple Leaf in Saturday's 6-4 win over Edmonton. That was big for the family, especially after Karter spent just three hours in Toronto before making his first trip to the hospital. (He slipped in the bathtub.)
Erica Lundmark says she's going to write a book about her experiences: "I wish someone had told me how to fight though adversity with a family." It bothers her that "everything written about Jamie has always been negative," but swears that there is no bitterness.
"No, honestly no. Where's that going to get you? Jamie fights through whatever he's put through. He always hopes to have playing time, but if you don't, you still have to make the best of it. At the end of the day, we're very proud that he's played close to 300 games.
"Plenty of people would love to trade with us."
Yes, they would. Rumours and all, a lot of people would love to say they played even once.
1. Most underreported story of the week: Sedin twins donating $1.5 million to the B.C. Children's Hospital Foundation. Sadly, if they had 19 mistresses, everyone would know about it.
2. Since Alexander Ovechkin's previous boarding major (Patrick Kaleta) happened more than 41 games ago, there is no automatic suspension. (Crazy coincidence: Chicago was game number 42.) But, he admitted post-game that he pushed Brian Campbell - and pushing guys from behind into the boards doesn't go over well, especially now that Campbell may be out for the rest of the regular season.
3. I know this is going to go over really well among the Capital fan base: If I was the organization, I wouldn't be too angry about a short suspension. Someday, Ovechkin (like Chris Pronger) will get himself suspended/tossed from a crucial playoff game because he's too reckless. He's got to turn it down - just a little.
4. Question for Oilers fans: How would you feel if Edmonton ended up with Cam Fowler instead of either Taylor Hall or Tyler Seguin? I'm not saying it will happen (probably depends on where they end up in the lottery), but they are watching him very closely. Oilers might need more help on the blue-line than up front. The Leafs felt they were easy to get behind, and they can't be the only team feeling that way.
5. NHL scout comparing Fowler to Drew Doughty: "Similar, but Doughty plays more physical."
6. Rick Tocchet came up with a great line when asked if he would take Doughty or Steve Stamkos first overall if the 2008 draft was re-done: "I'd try to trade for another pick." Of course he chose Stamkos, but what a tough call.
7. Will Mark Messier call upon Jordan Eberle to play for Team Canada at the worlds? Steve Tambellini hadn't heard anything, but I think it's a great idea.
8. There've been calls for the Penguins to sit Matt Cooke when they visit Boston this week. You can bet his teammates would vote the opposite. If not, they'll pay for what he did. Judging from Bill Guerin's comments, they think Cooke should have to deal with it himself.
9. By the way, from now on, there should be a moratorium on "I called xxxx and told him I didn't mean to hurt him" comments on plays like this. If you don't mean to hurt him, don't do it.
10. Very curious to see how much interest there is in Cooke (an unrestricted free agent) this summer.
11. Steve Downie just can't stand prosperity. Last week, the Toronto media (myself included) basically slathered all over him, thanks to his improved play. In return, he pulls a brutal cheap shot on Sidney Crosby. Honestly, what possesses a guy to do that?
12. Speaking of Crosby, boy does he drive Brandon Dubinsky nuts. Right before the Olympics, Dubinsky called Crosby a "little baby" in an MSG interview with John Giannone. About 10 days ago, he and Henrik Lundqvist were infuriated by what they called a dive. Don't think he dove on the Downie play, though.
13. There are very few teams that can make Chicago chase the puck like Washington did Sunday afternoon. Without Ovechkin, that was extremely impressive.
14. Scotty Bowman said the Blackhawks were interested in Alex Auld, but the Rangers had waiver priority.
15. The Sharks are playing it pretty quiet, but other teams have given up on Princeton free agent forward Cam MacIntyre. They think he signed with San Jose last Thursday, but there is no announcement and los tiburones aren't saying anything.
16. Another hot NCAA prospect is Casey Wellman of UMass. His season ended Saturday, and Minnesota is pushing very hard. A few other chasers aren't willing to promise an NHL spot right away, but the Wild are. Ottawa really wants Wellman, too.
17. Boston might be willing to do the same with Bobby Butler, who is finished at New Hampshire (unless the Wildcats get an at-large bid, which one of the teams chasing him believes they will). Admittedly, I am more certain about the MacIntyre/Wellman reports than this one.
18. By the way, if Chuck Fletcher wanted to, he could have easily traded Marek Zidlicky. Made the right move, though, in signing him.
19. This is Stamkos' 42nd goal, from Thursday in Toronto. Jean-Sebastien Giguere gave him a great compliment, saying there weren't many NHL forwards with enough confidence in their shots to even try putting it there.
20. Says a lot about Martin St. Louis as a team player that he'd agree to switch to left-wing. No wonder Tocchet loves him.
21. Oilers coaches didn't expect Ryan Whitney to go Saturday after he took a puck off the inside of his right knee, but he sucked it up and dressed. Wanted to make a good impression on his new team by playing through a bit of pain.
22. Had a good, long chat with Andrew Cogliano before that game. He admitted he lost his confidence early in the season, "and it's hard to get it back in this league. No easy nights." Cogliano also said he realized he wasn't good enough defensively or consistent overall. Feels better about the way he's finishing up and teammates told him that 10 years from now, he's going to laugh about this season.
23. Some Edmonton fans were wondering if Pat Quinn would want to come back after this miserable season. He said he won't quit, but will the organization make a change?
24. Really, really happy the GMs did not go for that nutty "playoff tournament" suggested by Charles Wang. You want to make the playoffs? Finish in the top eight.
25. Liked that the GMs want to make the shootout less of a determining factor in playoff seedings - considering it is completely irrelevant in the post-season.
26. Big, big meeting Tuesday between prospective owners of the Phoenix Coyotes, the NHL and the city of Glendale. There is grumbling from the league that the city is reneging on some promises. Could this be the reason?
27. Not only is Tyler Bozak figuring it out, but Viktor Stalberg is too. Discovering the strengths and weaknesses of different players - and exploiting them - is crucial to success. Stalberg is learning who you can take wide and who you can't.
28. Players used to joke that Nikolai Kulemin "had the best job in Toronto. He plays for the Maple Leafs and doesn't speak to anyone." Unfortunately for him, reporters have learned his English has improved since he watches Treehouse TV with his son.
29. Saw one game Donald Brashear played in the AHL, and it was embarrassing. How many fighters have played 1,000 games? Craig Berube, Tie Domi and Brashear. That's something to be proud of, but watching him aimlessly run at these guys was sad. In retaliation, I think some of the Marlies were asking him how he was enjoying his final month of hockey.
30. Good listen: Bob Clarke on The Fan last week. Clarke gave an emotional speech about head shots at the GM meetings.
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