11:30—TSN, the Canadian sports network, announces that Philadelphia has traded Niinimaa to Edmonton for defenseman Dan McGillis. Milbury slumps in an easy chair. "I thought our offer was better," he says with a wan smile.
12:05 p.m. The deadline is past. A record 19 deals have been made on the final day. Thirty-eight players have changed teams. Milbury didn't get Niinimaa or a defense-man he could expose in the upcoming expansion draft, but he did clear out two disgruntled players, land a potential first-line winger in Dawe, pick up some muscle in Odjick and keep a roughneck defenseman. Milbury's face is drawn, his eyes tired.
That night he will coach the Islanders in a game against the Canucks. Odjick will fight Strudwick in the first period, Dawe will not score, and Pilon will play 22 minutes and finish +2. The Islanders will lose 4-3. The more things change, the more they stay the same.