Today is one of those days. Where you understand that sports is a business above anything else. Sports business indeed is handcuffed to what fans want and how they spend their dollars, but for sports watchers it’s hard to envision the future betterment while sort of hating the moment. Welcome to professional sports trade season.
The latest in a line of many Oilers/Barons to move on after making Oklahoma City their home, is Dane Byers. The thoughts were lofty and the expectations golden for the sturdy forward who’d made a pleasing amount of noise throughout his career with various teams. When he was signed in the offseason, I sent Lori Schmidt, a sports reporter at 97.1 The Fan in Columbus, Ohio, a tweet. In that 140 character message, I asked about who Dane Byers was, what we could expect, and how he’d done in Springfield (farm team for the Bluejackets). Her reply was simple – Neal, you’re getting a solid AHL player in Dane Byers. He’s also a good person.
Indeed, Dane Byers was to be a leader amongst a group of boys. Both defensively and offensively, he was meant to give a burly overtone to a team that might occasionally get weak in the knees. But the lockout seemingly buried Dane for several months, and by the time he emerged, he was beaten down again to make room for Darcy Hordichuk and Ben Eager.
And still, Dane was the consummate professional throughout. He stayed healthy, worked hard, earned respect from fans and colleagues, and positioned himself to be of value elsewhere when he had such an iffy season. From day one he was a part of the community, assisting in several of the Barons team outreach endeavors. And this alone was worth the signing. It’s also the hardest part to swallow when it was announced he was being traded.
Traded for another seasoned guy, but with an opposite skill set. And that’s the right call by GM’s from both the AHL and NHL. Removing something you have too much of for something you need is always the way to move a player. And yet, it stings.
In comes Garrett Stafford, the 33 year old defender from the Washington Capitals organization, out goes Dane Byers, the six years younger forward with some decent baggage in years gone by.
Dane will forever be remembered as a Baron during the NHL lockout season where Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and Justin Schultz committed themselves to “sticking together”. He’s not the last to move before the trade deadline ends, but it’s important to fondly remember the scope of his brief time in Oklahoma City.
Farewell, Dane Byers. Thank you.