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Mikhail Grabovski faces the ‘idiot’, Maple Leafs for first time since buyout

Greg Wyshynski
Puck Daddy

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Mikhail Grabovski didn’t have what you’d call an amicable split with the Toronto Maple Leafs, whom his Washington Capitals face on Saturday night.

The Leafs used a compliance buyout on the remaining four years of his 5-year, $27.5-million contract last summer after Coach Randy Carlyle cut his ice time and offensive opportunities. Grabovski responded by blasting his coach in an interview with TSN:

"I play in the [expletive] Russian KHL, I make lots of [expletive] points and what's going to happen? He make me [expletive] play on the fourth line and he put me in the playoffs on the fourth line and third line again," Grabovski spewed. "Yeah, I don't score goals. I need to work more about that. I know that. But if you feel support from your coach [you'll find success]. I don't feel any support from this [expletive] idiot."

Wish he were more honest …

Under former coach Ron Wilson, Grabovski was the Leafs’ best possession player. Under Carlyle, those numbers tumbled, and he had just 16 points in 48 games last season.

Grabovski signed a 1-year “show me” deal with the Caps to be their No. 2 center, and he’s been arguably their second-best forward behind Alex Ovechkin this season: 7 goals and 12 assists, sparking one of the best lines for Washington this season with Joel Ward and Jason Chimera. (A line that, incidentally, will be broken up against the Leafs.)

How is he feeling about returning to Toronto? From CSN Washington:

… “Toronto is second my home,” Grabovski said. “Five years in the city. I feel like the fans were like family. I grew up in this place and I’m excited to come to Toronto and play.”

“I think it’s a good move for me here,” said Grabovski, who will get two new linemates tonight in left wing Eric Fehr and right wing Troy Brouwer. “Of course, I feel terrible when they buy out my contract, but right now I feel excellent because I can play my style of hockey. I enjoy playing where people trust you and give you a chance to play.”

As for Carlyle, he said Grabovski was "just another player” when asked about the matchup on Saturday.

The buyout was immediately labeled a mistake by Leafs observers. It’ll be interesting to see if Grabovski underscores that notion with his performance tonight.

One thing's for sure: He'll get more ice time in Toronto than he did last season.

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