Well, that didn’t take long. On the Montreal Canadiens first day of training camp for the upcoming 2013 shortened season, Habs new General Manager Eric Bergevin has officially put an end to the not so illustrious Scott Gomez era in Montreal. Bergevin informed Gomez the team will not be requiring his services this season.
According to the terms of the league’s new collective bargaining agreement with the NHLPA, each team will be permitted two buyouts after this season to help them fit under the salary cap, which will drop by $10 million next season. However, if a player is injured, a team will not be permitted to buy out his contract.
Bergevin stated the Canadiens will not be utilizing the 33 year-old Gomez this season, and will be buying out the last remaining year of his contract for the 2013-14 season. Montreal obviously does not want to take the risk of having Gomez hurt this season, which would make sense considering the short training camp, Gomez’ advancing age and his injury in 2011-12.
Gomez missed 44 games last season due to injury and had scored only 21 goals in three seasons with the team. The much maligned center went one year without scoring a goal, prompting a cascade of ridicule from Montreal fans and media. Gomez had signed a lucrative $51.5 million seven year deal and is in his sixth season of the agreement. His unproductive play and high salary had made him a major liability for Montreal, a team in dire need of goal scoring.
After a brief one week training camp, the Canadiens open the 48 game abbreviated season at home on Saturday January 19 against the Toronto Maple Leafs, who made headlines last week by unexpectedly firing GM Brian Burke. A high number of injuries are expected this season, as players (those who were not playing overseas, that is) will struggle to get their skating legs back after a lengthy four month lockout.
The recently released 2013 NHL schedule has teams only playing against teams from there own conference, mostly every other day and even on back to back days. The Habs close out their season at Toronto on April 27.
Bergevin also stated that signing 23 year-old restricted free agent Defenseman P.K. Subban remains the top priority for the Habs. The Canadiens were unable to sign Subban over the summer, prior to the lockout, forcing some to speculate his demands may be a little to rich for the team’s taste.