NHL teams are allowed to exercise their contract buyout option between June 15th and June 30th each year. Within hours the Canadiens rid themselves of the albatross contract that was Georges Laraque. The Canadiens are obligated to pay 2/3rd’s of the remaining 1.5 million dollars in his three year 4.5 million dollar contract. Laraque is now a free agent and can negotiate with any team.
It means the Canadiens will pay Laraque a million dollars spread over the next two seasons at a cap hit of 500-thousand per year.
Then general manager Bob Gainey, in effect, fired Laraque on January 21st , calling him a dressing room distraction. He missed 22 of the first 28 games. Eight times he wasn’t dressed; 9 games through injury and he was suspended for five games. He registered ten minutes ice time only twice all season. In eleven games he logged less than five minutes. It was Laraque’s complaints through the media that led to his dismissal.
There is no underestimating the nightmare Laraque became. In total Laraque was a part of the Canadiens for 110 games over just under a year and a half. He scored 1 goals and 4 assists in the 51 games he actually played. Laraque missed 43 games due to injury (7 different occasions). He was a healthy scratch on 23 occasions and served a five game suspension.
Laraque seems to be part of a dying breed in the game; the role of the one dimensional fighter. His signing turned out to be a disaster Gainey rectified by telling him to stay away from the team in January.
The following are the NHL rules concerning buyouts –
- For players under the age of 26, a buyout costs the team one-third of remaining contract value.
- For players 26 or older, a buyout costs two-thirds of remaining contract value.
- On a buyout, the team takes a cap hit for a percentage of the buyout value (according to a very complex formula) spread over twice the length of the remaining contract years.