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THN.com Blog: Time to eliminate no-trade clauses

The Toronto Maple Leafs might want to trade Mats Sundin, but his no-trade clause has the team handcuffed. (Graig Abel/ NHLI via Getty Images)

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The Toronto Maple Leafs might want to trade Mats Sundin, but his no-trade clause has the team handcuffed. (Graig Abel/ NHLI via Getty Images)

The NHL introduced a salary cap to protect foolish, free spending GMs from themselves. Review some of the contracts that have been handed out since and debate whether or not you think it has worked to expectations.

When the league and the NHL Players’ Association get together for future talks, I suggest Gary Bettman and Co. push for the elimination – or, at the very least, a reduction – of no-trade/no-movement clauses in contracts. Some GMs hand them out like Halloween treats.

You could even make the case giving out these clauses is a big reason why recently fired Toronto Maple Leafs GM John Ferguson lost his job.

Ferguson effectively painted himself – and his replacement – into a corner by giving a no-trade/no-movement contract to defenseman Bryan McCabe and including no-trade clauses in deals he initialed with Mats Sundin and Darcy Tucker.

Ferguson also gave limited no-trade clauses to defensemen Tomas Kaberle (if the Leafs miss the playoffs in 2008 or 2009 he can be traded the following year without his permission) and Pavel Kubina (can be traded to pre-specified teams).

Look at the mess Tampa Bay GM Jay Feaster has created after including no-trade clauses in the contracts of Brad Richards and Martin St-Louis. The Lightning is wallowing near the bottom of the NHL this season with three of the best forwards in the league (including Vinny Lecavalier) and Feaster can do very little to help his team’s desperate need for better defense and goaltending because St-Louis and Richards – the two most likely to be moved – need to give permission to be dealt.

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The salary cap limits player movement. Of course we’ll see plenty of transactions at the trade deadline, but by then teams like Toronto and Tampa Bay will be virtually dead in terms of this year’s playoff picture. Wonder if that would be the case if Toronto could have traded Tucker or McCabe in November and Tampa could have swapped Richards or St-Louis in December?

At the very least, teams should be limited in the number of players they can give no-trade clauses to. For instance, if Pittsburgh wants to give one to Sidney Crosby, no problem. But give one to Darryl Sydor or Sergei Gonchar, which they did? Forget it.

I favor eliminating them altogether.

Mike Brophy, the co-author of the book Walking with Legends, is a senior writer for The Hockey News and a regular contributor on THN.com. His blog appears Mondays and his column, Double OT, appears Wednesday.

For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, Subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.

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