Deadline-day anxiety for Bruins

Tomorrow is trade-deadline day in the Western Hockey League, a day in which teenage hockey players are swapped from team to team like so many poker chips.

Contenders toss the future onto the back burner in hopes of acquiring the one key player who will spearhead a championship run. Rebuilding teams ship older players to contenders for picks and prospects.

The Chilliwack Bruins are likely to be in the seller’s camp, fielding phone calls on 20-year-old veterans like Josh Aspenlind, Dillon Johnstone and defenceman Craig Lineker.

“I’ve been through several trade deadlines,” Lineker said. “Now, I just try to not think about it. If you get moved you get moved and there’s really nothing you can do about it.”

Lineker has played for four teams during his WHL career. His first trade sent him from Regina to Saskatoon at the start of the 2005-06 season.

“It was a little weird and a little stressful,” he recalled. “You’re certainly nervous going to a new team because you’ve got to get used to a new group of guys and a new system. But once you’ve done it once it does get easier.”

Like many things in life, there’s a glass-half-full glass-half-empty way of looking at trades.

“On one hand one team thought you were expendable,” Lineker said. “But on the other hand, another team wants you. It’s better to take the positive approach and be excited if another team goes out of its way to get you.”

Chilliwack head coach Jim Hiller has plenty of first-hand experience with the business side of hockey.

At one point during his National Hockey League career he was traded two times in three days, an unenviable position for any player in any league.

“Three cities in three days and that was difficult,” he admitted. “But it certainly taught me something about the realities of life. As a hockey player I think sometimes you’re a bit sheltered from the things other people have to deal with. I think being traded made me stronger.”

Hiller doesn’t know how many trades the Bruins may make between today and tomorrow, but he hopes his players keep things in perspective.

“Every team is dealing with it. But most of the time less happens as opposed to more.”

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