Canadiens send Gomez home for the season; will likely be bought out
Published Sunday, January 13, 2013 12:03PM EST
Last Updated Sunday, January 13, 2013 6:40PM EST
BROSSARD, Que. -- The Montreal Canadiens have sent centre Scott Gomez home for the season.
New general manager Marc Bergevin said at the opening of training camp that he will buy out Gomez's contract next summer to remove his team-high US$7.3 million salary cap hit from the books.
Under the new collective bargaining agreement signed Saturday, the cap is to plunge by about $10 million next season, but teams will be allowed two "amnesty" buyouts to help reach the cap.
However, if a player is injured, he cannot be bought out.
““It was clear to us that with with the cap next year is going to be, we had to buy out Scott’s contract and the best, safest way without him being injured and risking that was to send him home. Pay his salary and respect then and then in the summer time we will buy him out,” said Bergevin.
Bergevin said it was safest decision.
"I have nothing against Scott Gomez," he said. "It was the best thing for the future of the team."
Gomez has been a disappointment on the ice the last two seasons. Last season, the 33-year-old centre was limited to 38 games by injuries and had two goals and nine assists.
Gomez was informed of the decision early Sunday morning, before the team took to the ice to start camp.
"He was very professional," said Bergevin. "He understands the situation."
Habs head coach Michel Therrien said it was the right choice.
“it's not an easy decision to make, don't me wrong, but I think marc and his group made the best decision that they could make for the Montreal Canadiens,” he said.
Captain Brian Gionta was the first player to learn of the decision.
“Gomer's a great friend to all of us. He's been a great teammate. He's been nothing but professional the whole way. He never wallowed. He had a tough year last year, and the business side took over. But on a personal note, he's a great friend and it's tough to see that happen to him,” he said.
Subban still unsigned
Bergevin said he met with agent on Saturday to get a new deal with defenceman P.K. Subban signed soon.
"Our goal is to sign P.K. And his goal is to play in Montreal," he said. "We just haven't agreed yet."
Subban was not at camp.
“I went to Toronto yesterday and I met with (agent) Donnie Meehan and PK for a face-to-face meeting dialogue. It's always the last six months dealing with Donnie. It's been respectful, healthy, good discussion. Obviously we're not agreeing. We have different views on that,” he said.
Centres Tomas Plekanec (ribs) and Petteri Nokelainen (back) were also not skating.
The team announced it has invited fans to an intrasquad game for free on Thursday night at the Bell Centre.
Louis Leblanc, Patrick Holland, Michael Bournival, Frederic St-Denis and Michael Blunden, who were not invited to training camp, will be called up from the AHL's Hamilton Bulldogs for the game.
With additional reporting from CTV Montreal