Milan Jurcina on coming home
When Milan Jurcina was traded to Columbus in late December, he packed up some of his belongings and moved to Ohio. He never bothered to empty out his D.C.-area apartment, though.
"I've got so much stuff," the defenseman explained this week. "I was thinking that I'd finish the season wherever I'd go, I'd have to come back and pack up all my stuff and bring it back home."
Except before he could do that, he was traded back from Columbus to D.C., where he promptly moved back into his still furnished place. No, there wasn't any milk or orange juice left in the refrigerator, but other than that, it was just like coming back from a long road trip.
"It's like when you're going back home, all your stuff is in the same spot where you left it," he said. "You know the people, you know the neighbors in the apartment. You never think you're coming back to the same team you were traded from, but it was a really nice feeling when they told me I was coming back to Washington."
"Easiest trade ever," seconded Tomas Fleischmann, one of Jurcina's closest friends on the Caps who spoke with the defenseman several times during the brief span when they weren't teammates. "He just came back."
Jurcina, of course, is out with a hernia injury, and it's unclear whether he'll even been able to play this season. Still, his initial trade, and then the take-back, is sort of reminiscent of the Zydrunas Ilgauskas situation, with the center being traded from Cleveland to the Wizards, reaching a buyout in Washington, and then winding up back with the Cavaliers amid accusations of foul play. When Caps GM George McPhee was asked about the bizarre flip during a recent appearance on The Fan 590 in Toronto, he said there was never a master plan to reacquire Jurcina.
"There was no hanky panky there," McPhee said. "[Columbus] needed a defenseman, we needed a winger. Chris Clark was someone they wanted and had to be in the deal to make the money work, so it wasn't easy doing the deal [for Jason Chimera]. But we got the winger we needed, six weeks ahead of the trading deadline, because you never know if that sort of player is gonna be there.
"And then when they were dropping out of it, I called [Columbus GM] Scotty [Howson] and said, 'You know, I might have interest in [Jurcina].' He called me and said he's injured. I said, 'That might work even better. He doesn't cost us money and doesn't cost us a pick, and if he plays, then I'll give you a pick.' "
So Howson then called in Jurcina and told him he'd been traded.
"What city?" Jurcina asked. Howson told him back to Washington.
"[And] I was like, yes," Jurcina told reporters last week. "I can't even imagine how lucky I am coming back to Washington....It's like coming back home, so I'm pretty excited to be here."
When Jurcina arrived in Columbus, the Blue Jackets were in the process of losing 13 out of 14 games. Not longer after that, the Caps won 14 straight. He said he was, of course, following his former teammates, but he said he wasn't exactly rooting for them.
"You can't; you're playing for a different team. You have to do your best for the team you're playing for, you have to think about the team you're playing for," he said. "So it wasn't that easy, but you know, nothing you can do about it."
I asked Jurcina whether he would follow Columbus now that he's gone. He said probably not.
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