Q: What is the story with the abundance of contracts containing no-trade clauses? They used to be very rare, but it now seems as though every other player has one. Toronto had five guys it potentially wanted to potentially move at the deadline and four refused to waive their no-trade clause. How is a general manager supposed to make a trade anymore?
Ray Caliendo, Pittsburgh
MOLINARI: There's no question that no-trade clauses -- which, at the very least, give players the ability to have a major say in where they are sent in a deal -- greatly complicates the job of trying to pull off deal. There's also no question that the problems those clauses cause for general managers are completely self-inflicted, because no-trade clauses are something that is negotiated, not simply granted to all players at a particular stage of their career.
Players must reach a certain level of experience to be eligible for one, and GMs have no obligation to grant them one, anymore than they are compelled to give anything else in negotiations. However, most players who get a no-trade clause do so in return for giving up something else, usually money, in a contract.
It's part of the give-and-take of negotiations and some GMs who are concerned about holding down their payroll or saving a little salary-cap space often decide they'd rather do that and relinquish control over what they can do with a player at some point in the future. That doesn't always solve a problem, though; in many cases, it simply creates a different one, and puts it on a back burner for a while.
Players do have the option of waiving their no-trade clause, of course, but have no obligation to do so, as guys like Mats Sundin and Darcy Tucker proved in Toronto during the past few weeks. And frankly, the thinking here is that, because their no-trade clauses had to be secured through negotiations, no one should hold it against them that they wanted to stay with their current team.
The only Penguins with a no-trade clause, by the way, are defensemen Sergei Gonchar and Darryl Sydor and center Sidney Crosby, although the latter's doesn't take effect until the 2012-13 season, the last one on the contract extension that kicks in this summer.
Finally, "no-movement" clauses seem to be gaining in popularity, and are even more restrictive than no-trade clauses. They not only prevent a player from being traded without his consent, but also bar teams from putting the player on waivers or assigning him to a minor-league team unless he agrees.
Q: Do you think the NHL should look at revising how trade deadline day is handled, in regard to teams being at a disadvantage if traded players cannot join their new team in time to play that night? My thoughts are no games on deadline day, and games played the following day are divisional games so that teams would not have to travel until later on trade deadline day.
Maggie C. Swartzfager, Bradford, Pa
MOLINARI: Your point is understandable and well-considered, and no less a figure than Penguins coach Michel Therrien suggested after the morning skate in Boston yesterday that the league should give serious consideration to just such a proposal.
It's too early to tell how much support that idea might have around the league, although you can safely assume that writers who have a game to cover would prefer to not have the team on which they report make major personnel changes a few hours before the opening faceoff.
Personal and professional preferences aside, the inclination here is to retain the status quo, because the only real difference between deadline day and any other day during the season is that more teams tend to be active in the hours leading up to the deadline. If you think about it, had the Penguins completed the Marian Hossa-Pascal Dupuis and/or Hal Gill trades at 3 p.m. on the Tuesday before the deadline instead of on deadline day, they wouldn't have had their new players available for the game that night, either. The issue, then, is whether it is reasonable to build in an allowance for teams making moves at the deadline but not on, say, Feb. 10?
Therrien, it should be noted, is not the only person to endorse a version of your proposal, although it sometimes is done for entirely different reasons. One was the subject of a lively discussion in the press box at Nassau Coliseum Tuesday, when a Penguins official suggested that because of all the attention the deadline receives -- sports networks in Canada give it day-long coverage, for example -- it should be moved to mid-evening on a Monday. His logic was that the schedule traditionally is light on that particular day, and any deals that are made could generate extensive discussion on whatever game is being televised nationally in the U.S. that night.