Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Malakhov And Retirement

The New Jersey Devils came into this season with their roster having a total salary that exceeded the salary cap. This was not a problem because Patrik Elias was out with hepatitis so his salary would not count against the salary cap until he was playing. It appears that Elias is now healthy, so New Jersey had to make a move to get below the salary cap. It looks like the original plan was to waive Dan McGillis and send him to the minors to get his salary off their books. McGillis would have been subject to re-entry waivers if he were to be recalled, so likely he would be stuck in the AHL for the remainder of the season. However, plans changed. Coach Larry Robinson had to step down for medical reasons (stress and stress-related headaches). General manager, Lou Lomoreillo took over as an interim coach. Since McGillis had not yet been sent to the minors (though he had cleared waivers), Lamoreillo could still decide he wanted to play him if he wanted. Lamoreillo decided that Vladimir Malakhov was the player he would rather jettison to make the salary cap. Lamoreillo told Malakhov that he was going to waive him and send him to the minors. Malakhov appears to have told him that he would rather retire then go to the minors. So no problem, New Jersey announced Malakhov's retirement.

But it is not so simple, after some second thought (and possibly consultation with Malakhov's agent Paul Theofanous), Malakhov decided that he didn't actually want to retire. So he announced that he wasn't retired. That put New Jersey in a bad place. Since Malakhov had abandoned the team, the Devils decided to suspend Malakhov. According to Theofanous, Malakov merely is on a leave of absence from the Devils.

It will be interesting to see how all this plays out. Can a player announce tell a team he will retire but change his mind before signing paperwork? Will the impotent NHLPA stand up for for Malakhov? This is another problem under the new CBA. Problems such as these are not unexpected since the CBA is a significant change from the past and it is nearly impossible to make a significant change without some unintended consequences.

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