October 09, 2011
When the Montreal Canadiens acquired Blair Betts(notes) on waivers from the Philadelphia Flyers, it was seen as an astute hockey move: He added size to the Smurfs Ewoks Lilliputian undersized lineup and made one of the better penalty killing units in the NHL even better.
The Flyers, meanwhile, saw Betts as expendable with the additions of Max Talbot(notes) and rookies like Matt Read(notes) and Sean Couturier(notes), along with using Andreas Nodl(notes) on the PK. His $700,000 contract would be catnip to other teams, so waivers were a no-brainer.
Ah, were it only that easy: Betts failed his physical with Montreal, and has been returned to the Flyers per NHL By-Law 11.87 (a). From the NHL:
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman rendered the decision after reviewing submissions from both Clubs. By-Law 11.8 (a) states: "The Member Club acquiring a player by waiver claim shall take an assignment of the player's contract. Nevertheless, if the Commissioner determines that a player acquired by waiver claim is not physically fit at the time the claim is made, the Member Club making the claim may refuse to take an assignment of such player's contract and the request for waivers shall be cancelled."
In reaching his decision, Commissioner Bettman stated: "While it is clear that both clubs have acted in good faith in this unique situation (i.e. a waiver claim), I am not prepared to dispute the conclusion of the Montreal Club doctors that Mr. Betts was physically unfit to play at the time of the claim. Therefore, it is my decision that, per League By-Laws, the appropriate resolution to this matter is to restore the parties to the position they were in prior to the waiver claim on Oct. 5."
It appears to have been a lingering shoulder injury for Betts. Good thing the Habs kept the receipt, or else they would have only gotten store credit.
So what does this mean for the Flyers, who thought they had their contract situation all sussed out? Sarah Baicker of CSN Philly explains:
Rookie Sean Couturier hasn't yet played in his 11th game, so his contract can still slide — meaning it doesn't currently count against the league maximum contract count of 50.
But with Betts back in the fold, the Flyers would have 50 contracts, not including 18-year-old Couturier. Should they wish to keep Couturier on the roster for more than 11 games, the Flyers will be forced to make a choice: waive another player and hope he gets picked up by another team, or place Betts on unconditional waivers.
Bottom line: We've finally found a Canadiens player who had a shorter tenure in Montreal than Francois Beauchemin.