Although he wouldn’t get a lot of sympathy among Montreal fans, there was something unfair about the process that allowed the Canadiens to force Scott Gomez completely out of the game for the entire season because they didn’t want to risk his buyout eligibility next summer.
True, Gomez was going to be fully paid while sitting at home. But, considering the way his career has gone the last two or three years, enforced inactivity would pretty much end the possibility of any form of comeback.
A;pparently the NHLPA and the league didn’t like the way the situation unfolded either. They met today and adjusted the ‘compliance clause’ specifically to address the situations of both Gomez and Rangers defenceman Wade Redden.
Under the CBA adjustment, they must first put Gomez on waivers by Thursday and once he clears the Habs will be allowed to buy him out. The process must be completed before Saturday’s season opener.
Outside of the fact that they free up a spot on their fifty-player contract roster, there is very little in the deal of benefit to the Canadiens beyond doing Gomez a career favour.
Unlike the two third’s buyout in effect next season, the Canadiens mujst pay 100% of this year’s 5.5 million dollar salary and then 2/3rd’s on the remaining 4.5 million next season, the final year of that seven year contract he signed with the Rangers. Additionally, the Canadiens salary cap charge this season will be $6.46 million of Gomez’s $7.36 million annual hit. (Starting next year, allowable buyouts will not be charged against the cap but will be attached to hockey related revenue). Even if Gomez catches on with another team, the Canadiens will be responsible for 100% of the buyout figure.
It will still be considered one of two allowable amnesty buyouts, the other of which may be exercised next summer or the summer of 2014.
Gomez and Redden can now become free agents, available to sign a contract with another organization. In Gomez’s case, it probably means an AHL contract. Whether he has enough remaining in his game to make his way back to an NHL team is an open question.
On that, we can only wish him good luck.