TORONTO — P.A. Parenteau received a text message from his agent Monday morning with news of a trade.
Parenteau hadn’t been dealt — not yet anyway. Instead, the 32-year-old was receiving word on the Toronto Maple Leafs latest transaction, which sent defenceman Roman Polak (who shares the same agent as Parenteau) and forward Nick Spaling to San Jose for two draft picks and forward Raffi Torres.
Parenteau knows the next message from his agent could be regarding his own future.
"I think we’re all aware that if we weren’t going to be in the playoff run things like that were a possibility, even a guarantee," said Parenteau, a pending unrestricted free agent who is tied for second on the Leafs with 15 goals. "For me, it doesn’t change anything.
"I go about my business like I did all year and try not to think about it either."
Parenteau and his teammates are well aware of what Toronto is doing in purging its roster of current assets for those that might help in the future. That hasn’t made the past few weeks, nor the week ahead of the Feb. 29 trade deadline, any easier.
"Obviously we know what the organization is trying to do," said Michael Grabner, another Leaf likely to be dealt soon.
Grabner is trying as best as he can to ignore all the speculation but that’s not easy with the rise of social media. It’s not even just his own accounts that he has to ignore but the whispering of friends and family who want to know what’s what right from the source.
Grabner says the rink offers the best possible refuge. Hop on the ice for practice or a game and questions about the future melt away.
"It’s a little unnerving, but at the same time you can’t worry about things you can’t control," said Mark Arcobello, who played for four NHL teams last year through one trade and two waiver claims. "What fans may not realize is a lot of guys have families and they’ve got roots and places here where they kind of settled."
That, Arcobello’s teammates agree, is what makes this time of year extra challenging, especially when playing for a rebuilding team like the Leafs in a hockey-mad Toronto market.
Anxious partners want answers to questions about the future, something players just don’t have. Trades, too, can be difficult to explain to young kids.
"It’s just a thing that when they get older you can tell them what happened and why they lived in four different places in one year," said Grabner, who was dealt to Toronto on the eve of training camp and is also due to be a free agent at season’s end. "My wife is definitely thinking about it.
"It’s a tough situation when you have to move your life everywhere."
Grabner says it’s unlikely his two kids would join him if he were to change teams. If Grabner is moved somewhere close to Toronto, his son might be able to visit during March break.
Parenteau, married with two kids himself, says his family won’t be joining him if, and more likely, when he’s traded.
"It is kind of hard, but at the same time it’s a good thing," Parenteau said of the prospect of trades. "If I wasn’t having a good season we wouldn’t be talking about (it)."