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Bruins deal disgrunted Oates and two others in blockbuster deal

March 2, 1997 GMT

BOSTON (AP) _ The Boston Bruins got rid of Adam Oates in a big way Saturday night, trading the disgruntled center along with goaltender Bill Ranford and forward Rick Tocchet to the Washington Capitals in a blockbuster, six-player deal.

Oates, one of the NHL’s top playmakers, had given the Bruins an ultimatum to bring in more supporting talent or trade him. The Bruins, in danger of finishing out of the playoffs for the first time in 30 years, responded by swinging one of the biggest deals in recent NHL history.

The Bruins sent three of their top four players to the Capitals in a deal of veterans for youth. In exchange, the Bruins received goaltender Jim Carey, centers Jason Allison and Anson Carter, a 1997 third-round draft choice and a 1998 second-round draft choice if the Capitals re-sign Tocchet, who is an unrestricted free agent when his contract expires in May.

The deal is the biggest in the NHL since the Philadelphia Flyers acquired Eric Lindros in 1992 for six players, two draft picks and $15 million.

Oates, who contributed two assists in the Bruins’ 5-5 tie Saturday with Philadelphia, had been stripped of his alternate captaincy by assistant general manager Mike O’Connell during the recent firestorm involving his trade demands.

Oates was more popular with the Bruins fans. When he returned to Boston on Thursday night, he received a big ovation even before he assisted on three goals in the Bruins’ 6-2 victory over Tampa Bay.

Ranford also played Saturday, allowing five goals on 29 shots by the Flyers.

Oates, Tocchet and Ranford _ who have all played in NHL all-star games _ are expected to be in Toronto when the Capitals play there on Monday.

A number of trade options have been rumored since Oates blasted Bruins management for the team’s worst season in years. But no one expected Ranford _ who just signed a new contract following his criticism of management _ and Tocchet to go in the trade.

Despite the tie with the the first-place Flyers, the Bruins are struggling. Until there win against Tampa Bay, the Bruins had lost eight in a row and were winless in 10 games.

The Briuns are 21-34-9.

Oates, the three-time finalist for the NHL’s sportsmanship award, upset management when he criticized the front office for being more concerned about its bottom line than winning.

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The Bruins’ owners reportedly made $14 million off the team last year. But little has been done to address the team’s weaknesses, most notably the lack of offensive power after Cam Neely retired during the summer.

In response to Oates’ comments, O’Connell accused the demoted star of lacking faith in his teammates. Still, O’Connell conceded that ``there was some truth in what he said.″

Oates, 34, has been the Bruins’ leading scorer in every year since coming to Boston from St. Louis in 1992. This season, he leads the Bruins with 50 assists and 68 points. He has had four 100-point seasons, two with the Bruins.

Ranford was also unhappy with management until he was re-signed to a contract for an undisclosed amount.

Ranford, who made $2.1 million last season, lost his arbitration case last summer when he requested $2.75 million. The team had offered a two-year deal for $2.1 million annually, but filed at $1.75 million in arbitration _ and won, making Ranford the 16th-highest paid goalie in the NHL.

He threatened to stay out of training camp and later said he would ask for a trade. He could have become a restricted free agent after this season and an unrestricted free agent after next season.

Ranford was drafted by the Bruins in 1985, but was traded to Edmonton three years later. He earned the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP in 1990 as he led the Oilers to their fifth Stanley Cup.

Tocchet has missed most of the games since he took a shot off the ankle in a Feb. 20 game against Chicago. He skipped a game, then returned for one, but missed the last two games.

In 40 games this year, he has 16 goals and 14 assists.

The Bruins traded the present for the future, acquiring one of the league’s top young goalies and two of the Capitals’ top prospects. The 23-year-old Carey was sensational in his first full season in Washington last year, recording a team-record nine shutouts.

The 23-year-old Carter is a center who played four years at Michigan State. The 21-year-old Allison is a right wing with limited NHL experience.