February 20, 2008
I'm sure Keith Tkachuk wasn't the guy that started the whole thing, but for some reason, many are naming a proposed rule after him. According to the Ottawa Sun, the "Keith Tkachuk" rule being bandied about at this week's general manager's meetings would prevent upcoming free agents who are dealt at the trade deadline to be able to return to the team that traded them.
I think the rule is ridiculous. The free agency period in the NHL is an open market. Players who are without a contract should be allowed to play wherever they want. If a team is willing to take a chance on a "rental" player, they of course recognize the circumstances where on July 1, that player can return to the team that dealt him or sign elsewhere. Before the rule could be enforced, it would need approval from the NHL Board of Governor's and NHL Players Association, which I really do not see happening, unless the decision is up to Gary Bettman, then he just won't tell Paul Kelly.
One NHL executive was quoted in the story as saying, "I have spoken to a number of teams that didn't like what happened with Tkachuk." I'm going to assume one of those teams was Atlanta and general manager Don Waddell. Well, if Waddell wasn't so desperate to get into the playoffs he shouldn't have dealt three draft picks (including a 1st rounder) and Glen Metropolit for Tkachuk, fully knowing he was unrestricted after the season. It's all sour grapes to me.
Teams know the risks, but the pressure to win now has general managers making some questionable trades in order to get into the playoffs.