Near point of no returns

BRUCE GARRIOCH, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:35 AM ET

NAPLES, FLA. -- Call it the Keith Thachuk rule.

NHL GMs want to stop the practice of players being dealt at the trade deadline, only to return to their former clubs as unrestricted free agents weeks after the season ends.

Ending these short-term rentals, along with bigger nets, are the big items on the agenda as GMs gather here today for meetings ahead of the Feb. 26 trade deadline.

Sources say several GMs didn't like St. Louis winger Thachuk being dealt to the Atlanta Thrashers at last year's deadline, then simply returning to the Blues on July 1.

There's been talk about the Toronto Maple Leafs doing the same thing with captain Mats Sundin: Sending him to a contender for the playoffs and bringing him back as an unrestricted free agent in the summer.

It's believed the GMs will discuss a policy to block rental players from returning to their former teams for one full season.

"What we're discussing is making a rental player a true 'rental' and then keeping that player from going back to his former team for one full season," said an NHL executive. "Not many people like the situation where you send a player to be another team, get something in return and then bring the player back.

"I have spoken to a number of teams that didn't like what happened with Thachuk."

Blocking the return of rental players would need approval from the NHL's board of governors and a blessing from the Players' Association before take effect.

Bigger nets have been on the agenda at past GMs' meetings, but there's a bigger push this time with scoring down.

"If they're not going to make equipment bigger, then we might as well have bigger nets," said the executive.


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