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NHL Expansion Draft: Don’t begrudge Dion Phaneuf for using his no-move clause

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A contractual right is designed to be used

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Pittsburgh Penguins at Ottawa Senators Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

It’s come out recently that Dion Phaneuf, barring a huge last-minute change of heart, won’t be waiving his no-move clause. I think that’s more than fair. The theory behind these clauses in contracts is that the associated players leave money on the table when negotiating contracts to earn some protection over their future. We can argue the value of Phaneuf’s contract today, but he signed it, the idea was the Maple Leafs offered him less than he thought he was worth in exchange for the NMC. Now Phaneuf is well within his rights to use this because it was part of his negotiations.

Some people were up in arms when Jason Spezza nixed a trade to the Predators (think he regrets that now?) a couple years ago, using his no-trade clause. Spezza took dollars of his contract in exchange for that NTC, and he was well, well within his rights to do so. I argued then that it’s kind of like giving you benefits at your job, but then everyone giving you side-eye if you actually use them. You’re supposed to take advantage of your contract.

Personally, I don’t see this as Phaneuf not being a team player. Every player will be happy to see a fellow player take a bit of control of his future. He’s saying he wants to commit to this team. Sure, a good player will probably be taken, but even if he had waived, an NHL-calibre player would still have been taken. The expansion draft happens either way. All Phaneuf did was control his own destiny, a fact that Bryan Murray knew he was going to be able to do when he traded for him last season.

I’m sure part of my opinion here comes from being decidedly pro-player in the past couple lockouts. The owners are removing their players from the Olympics, and crying about not getting new arenas for free. But still, Phaneuf got a concession when negotiating his contract, got asked to pretend that didn’t happen, and said no. You can’t begrudge a player for doing exactly what his contract tells him to do.