It might be easy for fans to view hockey players as commodities. We put price tags on them and haggle over their value like they’re something able to be bought and sold, but the truth is that there is a real human person with real human emotions behind those business decisions. We had a reminder of that fact this week.
On Wednesday, the Capitals were practicing at the Leafs’ practice facility in Toronto when suddenly Devante Smith-Pelly was pulled off the ice and told that he had been placed on waivers.
Smith-Pelly is a Toronto-area native and his father had been watching him practice from the stands.
Another cruel detail to the spoiled homecoming: after practice, the Capitals were scheduled to tour the Hockey Hall of Fame before presenting the Hall with a Capitals Stanley Cup ring. Smith-Pelly, who had been instrumental to the Capitals success in the Stanley Cup playoffs, suddenly was on the verge of being discarded by the team that he loved enough to take a discount to stay with when he signed a new contract last summer.
Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman was at practice and saw Smith-Pelly’s reaction to being waived, as well as his teammates’ reactions. He talked about it on the 31 Thoughts podcast.