Trade deadline, for fans, is a fun time of year. With so few in-season trades, it gives them a bit of excitement prior to the last stretch for the Stanley Cup playoffs. For media, it’s a money-maker. Sports networks have full day coverage around the NHL trade deadline. For teams and General Managers, it’s the final push to make something happen of all of the discussions from the past several weeks. For players though, it’s hell in a bottle.
There are two things that the NHL and NHLPA must get together and agree upon, for the good of the players and of the game.
Why is the NHL scheduling games on trade deadline day? Players who have a scheduled game that night are trying to have their pre-game naps but how can you sleep when your name is in the rumour mill? Colby Armstrong was on TV telling his experience on how he found out from his mother, after waking up from his nap, that he had been traded.
What about the teammates, who are often losing a friend? Brendan Gallagher was sick on Monday so he didn’t play against the Boston Bruins on trade deadline day. But his best friend, Artturi Lehkonen, had just been traded to the Colorado Avalanche. What state of mind would he have been in, trying to focus on his job?
How fair is it to the teams, who have given assets and having to play short-handed that night? The coaches don’t know what their line-up will be like just a few hours from game time. Game day skates and practices are rendered worthless as the lines will likely be different anyway. Martin St-Louis came out and pleaded that case a couple of days ago as well.
2- Salary retention
It’s already very difficult to complete in-season trades with the salary cap. The NHL has implemented a rule where teams can keep up to 50% of a players’ cap hit on a trade. Based on that rule, it is for the duration of the contract. That’s no problem if the player is a pending UFA and it does help facilitate trades as many teams are right against the cap.
However, the trading team has no interest in keeping salary for players with multi-years left to their contracts. The NHL and NHLPA must agree to change that rule so teams can be allowed to keep salary for the current year only, and not for the remainder of the contract.
For example, Jeff Petry wants to be traded due to his family situation. He is clearly unhappy and it’s affecting his play. The Canadiens, though their GM Kent Hughes, are willing to accommodate him. But according to Hughes in a post trade deadline interview, said that not only the cap made it difficult in-season, but they aren’t willing to eat up salary for Petry’s duration of his contract.
They should have been able to keep up to half of his salary for the rest of this season, while the team trading for him would be on the hook for the entire $6.25M of his contract for the three remaining seasons of his contract.
As a matter of fact, they should implement that rule not only at trade deadline. In order to facilitate player-movement, perhaps they could agree to a date post-Christmas. Take an arbitrary date, like January 1st or something like that. Teams could keep up to 50% salary for a specified number of years (minimum the current year) up to the full remainder of the contract.
It seems to me like those two amendments would not only be good for the game, for teams, for the players and for fans, but they would be rather easy to implement. But I guess the NHL and NHLPA have other more pressing issues they need to take care of, like the whole Evgenii Dandonov contract/trade mess. And let’s not forget their number one priority: counting their money, playing tug-of-war with the shares of revenues…
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