Berglund walks away from over $12 million in odd divorce from Sabres

Contracts in professional sports can go sideways for a number of different reasons, but there’s one constant that you can usually rely on: athletes tend to show up for their paycheques.

Even if age or injury has rendered them completely ineffective most athletes will soldier on if they’re under contract because they have millions and millions of reasons to do so. It’s not unreasonable or surprising, it’s human beings reacting logically to a strong monetary incentive.

Patrik Berglund seems to be wired a little differently than most athletes — or humans for that matter. The 30-year-old centre is apparently willing to leave an awful lot of dough on the table if it means he can split from the Buffalo Sabres.

Berglund was initially suspended from the Sabres for failing to report to the team, and apparently the two sides saw no way to reconcile their differences. The exact nature of the 30-year-old’s beef with the Sabres isn’t known but he was having an awful season with the club (two goals and two assists in 23 games) that had led to healthy scratches and a career-low average ice time.

The big Swede will now have the opportunity to seek employment elsewhere instead of being buried in the AHL thanks to a relatively hefty contract that carried a $3.85 million cap hit and was meant to run through 2021-22.

In terms of on-ice utility, Berglund should generate some interest around the league. As recently as last season he has producing at a respectable 0.46 points per game with positive possession metrics. Although he’s clearly fallen short of the “next Mats Sundin” label that was once attached to him he still has size, relative youth, and the ability to contribute on special teams in a middle-six role.

On the other hand, he will have to prove to other clubs that his dustup with the Sabres was a one-time incident and simply walking away from an NHL team isn’t great for your league-wide reputation. Whatever the ending to this story is Berglund deserves some credit for having the conviction to trade a lot of money for his the freedom to write the next chapter in the story of his career.

That’s not a move a lot of NHL players would make.

Patrick Berglund is making a play for his professional freedom. (NBC)
Patrick Berglund is making a play for his professional freedom. (NBC)