The lead-in seemed endless.
But once it arrived, the day was kind of a blur.
The NHL's annual trade deadline came and went Monday with something between a bang and a whimper. There was the long-awaited move of last fall's highest-profile free agent as well as a bevy of lesser deals that, if precedent holds, could be the ones responsible for galvanizing a championship team.
Top-line buzz was provided by Taylor Hall, who'd stunned the hockey world by signing with Buffalo in October before suffering through a historically bad season with the Sabres and managing just two goals and 19 points in 37 games. He's off to a new competitive life with the Boston Bruins, who acquired Hall and journeyman Curtis Lazar in exchange for 24-year-old winger Anders Bjork and a second-round pick in July's draft.
Boston entered Monday's games in fourth place in the East Division, 22 points ahead of the last-place Sabres.
The Hall deal actually went down late Sunday, capping off a run of 18 trades from April 1 to 11 before 16 more deals were made Monday prior to the window officially closing at 3 p.m. ET.
The flurry of activity prompted the B/R hockey team to get together for its annual transaction dissection party, which yielded a list of winners and losers from the prolonged deadline frenzy.
Take a moment to peruse our collection and drop a viewpoint or two of your own in the comments.
Winner: Taylor Hall's Morale
OK, we alluded to it in the intro. But it bears repeating here.
Ignoring whatever impact a 29-year-old left winger may ultimately have on a Bruins club that sat 20th in the league in scoring—2.72 goals per game—heading into Monday night, just think about what waking up Monday morning must've felt like to a player who's never played on an elite team in the NHL.
Hall was the first pick in the 2010 draft and immediately became the best player on a series of lousy rosters in Edmonton. He missed the playoffs in each of six seasons with the Oilers—five before the arrival of Connor McDavid—before he was dealt to the New Jersey Devils in the offseason prior to the 2016-17 campaign.
He finally made the postseason with the Devils in 2017-18 but the team lasted just five games. Hall didn't return to the playoffs until last summer with the Arizona Coyotes, with whom he had two goals and six points in nine games before elimination by the Colorado Avalanche.
The Bruins entered Monday's games four points up on the New York Rangers for the final postseason berth in the East Division with two games in hand. In fact, Boston has made the playoffs for four straight seasons and 11 of the past 13, including a seven-game loss to the St. Louis Blues in the 2019 Stanley Cup Final and a seven-game win over the Vancouver Canucks for the franchise's sixth title in 2011.
Whether Hall gets them anywhere near a seventh banner, he figures to at least enjoy the ride.
Loser: Patrick Marleau's Dreams
Patrick Marleau is not without hockey accolades.
The Saskatchewan native, now 41, has scored more goals than all but 22 players to ever wear an NHL uniform, is on track to establish a league record for games played before the end of this season and had Olympic gold medals draped around his neck in both 2010 and 2014.
But he's never won a Stanley Cup. And unless his San Jose Sharks leapfrog two teams into the playoffs this spring and embark on perhaps the unlikeliest run in history, it's not going to happen anytime soon.
Though Marleau had said he was open to the idea of a deal to a contender, he began and ended Monday on the San Jose roster after the Sharks failed to make him a part of either of their deadline-day deals.
Marleau has appeared in all but 18 of his 195 career playoff games with the Sharks, but he got within reach of the Cup just once when San Jose advanced to the championship round before a six-game loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2016. He spent two seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs and one with the Penguins, too, but never made it past the first round.
So while we'll hold off on tears for a guy who's played 23 seasons and made nearly $100 million, if Marleau ultimately retires with the distinction of most games in NHL history without a celebratory title lap, there may at least be a melancholy twinge.