Mike Ribeiro returns to Predators on two-year $7 million contract

Mike Ribeiro returns to Predators on two-year $7 million contract
Mike Ribeiro returns to Predators on two-year $7 million contract

The Nashville Predators have re-signed forward Mike Ribeiro to a two-year contract extension – ignoring moral cries to not bring back the center who is in the middle of a civil sexual assault case. 

The deal is for $7 million over the next two seasons, Ribeiro is 35 years old.

At a Tuesday news conference, team general manager David Poile went to great lengths to explain his desire to bring back Ribeiro, who was bought out a year ago by the Arizona Coyotes for what that team called “behavioral issues.”

Recently the website On The Forecheck obtained the chilling details of the sexual assault civil suit involving Ribeiro’s former nanny. The allegations occurred before Ribeiro signed in Nashville last offseason for a one-year $1.05 million contract. The lawsuit is against Ribeiro and his wife. Poile defended both Tuesday, saying both have been “very good in our community.”

From a hockey perspective, it’s a decent contract for a 35-year-old who had 62 points last season. At best he’s better than your average second-line center, and it’s hard to find those on the UFA market.

But it’s still hard to understand why Poile is putting his hard-earned reputation on the line for a player who isn’t vital to his team’s success. Filip Forsberg and Roman Josi developed into stars last year.

They have James Neal – a pure goal scorer. Captain Shea Weber will be just 30 years old next year and should bounce back from an injury-plagued 2014-15. And there’s that three-time Vezina finalist Pekka Rinne in goal.

They have a glut of young forwards in their system that they’ve systematically drafted over the last several years. 

They don’t need Mike Ribeiro. But now they have him for the next two years.

The team even released a rosy story about Ribeiro -- which smelled of a PRish type move. Nashville is one of the more conservative social markets in the NHL and it's hard to believe the team's fan base is totally on board with this. Also, outside of this piece by J.R. Lind of the Nashville Scene, we haven't seen much strong local media opinion written on Ribeiro the last few weeks. 

“From the beginning of last year, for [General Manager] David [Poile] and [Head Coach] Peter [Laviolette] to believe in me and to be supportive of me and help me through this, I think it was a great fit,” Ribeiro said. “People believe in the team and that was one of the reasons I wanted to come back. The players, the coaches and David, they believed in me. They supported me throughout the year last year and I couldn’t be more thankful.”

Everyone deserves a second chance. And as we’ve noted many times, this is a civil case, not criminal. Also, sports are full of players who are ‘not good guys’  -- some of which haven’t sought therapeutic help like Ribeiro says he has.

This isn’t a cut and dry issue.

But Nashville simply didn’t have to bring him back. The Predators had a choice. Again, we ask: Would you want Mike Ribeiro on your team? 

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Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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