Mikhail Grigorenko and his agent don’t want him to go back to the QMJHL and the Quebec Remparts, which is where the Buffalo Sabres demoted him on Saturday and where Grigorenko refused to report.
But the Sabres want him to have top line minutes, which he hasn’t earned in the NHL yet. And frankly, their hands are tied. From Neate Sager of Buzzing The Net:
Buffalo's hands are tied by the CHL-NHL agreement, which states that a player drafted from a CHL team cannot play in minors full-time until age 20 or until he completes four seasons of major junior. Buffalo tried to assign Grigorenko, who has three points in 18 NHL games, to the AHL. The NHL nixed that move.
So yes, in theory, he’d in Rochester, but they can’t send him there.
Grigorenko, meanwhile, released a statement via his Facebook page apologizing to … well, everyone it seems for this situation (via Dmitry Chesnokov):
“I would like to apologize for the situation that is taking place right now around my move to Quebec. We simply need to find a place where I can grow as a player, to continue my development. I came to North America 3 years ago from Russia where I never had a bed, shower or heat. I worked every day to become the best player to help my family. Because hockey is everything to me.
“I am thankful that I could play in Quebec for one of the best coaches in the world, great fans, in a great city. I had to face against strong players who are now playing in the NHL. I am proud that I was selected by Buffalo in the NHL draft. I really like the city and its people. The club has the owners who want the best for the team and it's fans. Right now I want to ask everyone to show respect to me and give me time to think about my career. It is difficult to understand, more so for a teenager.”
(UPDATE: He's since deleted the post, but you can see it here.)
It bears repeating that Grigorenko is (a reported) 19 years old, and thus his middling NHL career might be excused. He needs ice time, seasoning and not in a somewhat still toxic environment in Buffalo.
But lord, did Buffalo make a hash out of this guy’s development. From the Buffalo News, a reminder: “They were criticized when they burned the first year on the deal for a player who did not show much passion on the ice and was accused by some teammates of a poor work ethic off it.