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It’s one thing for a team to buy out a player’s contract. It’s another to flat out admit that signing the player was a mistake. It’s totally another to say that the buy out is happening because of “behavioral issues.”
Which is all to say that the Arizona Coyotes buying out Mike Ribeiro is anything but typical.
The Coyotes initiated a buyout of Ribeiro’s three remaining years on Friday. It’s not a compliance buyout, meaning that the Coyotes are on the hook for $1,944,444 against the cap through 2020. They had signed Ribeiro last summer to a 4-year, $22-million free agent contract after he amassed 49 points in 48 games for the Washington Capitals in 2012-13.
He didn’t find the same success in Arizona, with 47 points in 80 games. Coyotes coach Dave Tippett even made him a healthy scratch late in the season.
But the big news here is that GM Don Maloney flat out said that Ribeiro’s buy out was motivated by behavioral issues. From the Arizona Republic:
"Mike had some real behavior issues last year with us I felt we could not tolerate going forward," General Manager Don Maloney said. "To his credit, he has been getting help this offseason and obviously would hope he continues. But at the end of the year and all the background checking and what happened, we felt that for us to move forward, we couldn't have him a part of this team."
One doesn’t exactly have to squint to read between those lines …
"We realize this is a fairly significant cost to us, but we also know we have to have certain people and leaders here to make us successful and certain levels of behavior we'll tolerate," Maloney said. "Hey, we all have our issues and no one's an angel. When we're looking at older players, there's certain things we accept and certain things we can't and it doesn't matter how much they make. They have to do the right thing for the organization, and we feel this is the right thing.”
The team gave Ribeiro the term he was seeking, and was confident that he would be on his best behavior under Tippett, for whom he played for in Dallas.
Said Maloney, to the Republic: “We weren't naïve to some of the issues of the past, but we felt it could be manageable and managed," Maloney said. "Obviously, it was a mistake."