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Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke told Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun that there were offers of "top six" forwards for defenseman Tomas Kaberle(notes) but none that "made sense" for the Leafs before Kaberle's no-trade clause kicked back in last Sunday at midnight.

But to clear up a mystery born from that indecision: Burke said he still refuses to ask a player to waive a no-trade clause out of principle. From the Sun:

And he won't - as he steadfastly and stubbornly adhered to - ask Kaberle to waive his no-trade arrangement during the season, or close to the league trade deadline.

He should but he won't. "If they ask, that's a different issue," said Burke. "I will not ask a player to waive a no-trade arrangement. I'm bound by that. But if he wants to give me a list, that's different."

In other words: Just give me the damn list next spring, Tomas.

Burke's declaration sparked an interesting debate amongst some hockey writers (including yours truly) on Twitter this morning about what, exactly, a no-trade clause means.

The way I see it: There's no harm in asking. Fans have every right to be upset when a player doesn't waive one for the "betterment of the team" or his own career -- hello, Mats Sundin(notes) -- but at the end of the day, the team agreed to the no-trade provision, usually because the player made a concession on money or years. So you can't kill a guy for playing one of the few cards the players still hold with regard to their career paths.

Jeff Marek of CBC Sports sided with Burke's philosophy because (a) no-trade clauses are usually negotiated as part of a player contract in lieu of additional money and (b) you can't compensate a player for waiving that no-trade clause.

But in thinking about Burke's philosophy, what about this proposal: Should the next CBA allow players and their teams to negotiate a no-trade clause buyout, in which a team can remove the NTC for given amount at any point in the contract?

It would be an option, not mandatory, for players seeking no-trade clauses. Maybe there's even a way to open that provision up for in-season negotiation, rather than a "trigger" price; although whether it's a pre-determined amount or a negotiated sum, one imagines there'd have to be some kind of salary cap implication for the NTC buyout.

What are your thoughts on no-trade clauses? Agree with Burke's professional courtesy thing, or would you rather see teams play hardball with NTCers like the Tampa Bay Lightning did with Dan Boyle?

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