Craig Rivet played 923 games in the NHL, including over a decade with Montreal, a few seasons in San Jose, three more in Buffalo (where he was the captain for the entirety of his stay), and most recently Columbus in 2010-2011. He compiled 237 points over that time.
His next stop: Elmira, New York, home of the ECHL’s Jackals.
What’s not shared is the explanation of why someone as established as Rivet would skip a league entirely on the way down.
Before I speculate (and oh, brother, am I about to speculate), I gotta say – it’s always interesting to note which players really, really love the game as careers wind down. If you asked the majority of guys with established NHL careers under their belts to go play in the ECHL, most would say “hoop it” and suddenly find an interest in coaching.
I have two guesses as to why he signed a one-way in the ECHL:
1) Roster spots in the AHL aren’t generally filled by NHLers on their way down, at least not this early in the season. Those teams want to win, sure, and every team would likely benefit in a major way from having the experienced Rivet in their locker room, but the AHL is about development, first and foremost.
At the start of the year teams are usually healthy, full of young guys, and have a few AHL mainstays who’re treading water. It’s not easy finding a job at this time of year.
The second teams aren’t so healthy, I bet they’ll be eager to call “shotgun” on Mr. Rivet. My guess is he doesn’t play 15 games in the ECHL (I could see him skipping the AHL entirely again, on the way up). Which brings me to my next point….
2) I’m sure he could’ve signed a two-way AHL/ECHL deal with quite literally any AHL team out there – all of them would’ve been ecstatic to be able to call him up once some prospect or project get hurt.
But by signing a one-way, he can get called up (and signed) to any AHL team at the drop of a hat, so this way he’s not limited to one team. It’s a lot more likely for injuries to open up a few spots when the pool is 30 teams, not 1.
He wisely chose a team on the east coast, as you get called up more often from there based strictly on your proximity to AHL teams. If an injury happens to someone in morning skate, you can usually make it to the game that same night.
In the end, only he knows exactly why it’s come to this. Maybe it’s just to have a team in his back pocket if he can’t catch on somewhere else. Maybe it’s just to stay in shape while his agents finds him a home. Maybe Rivet just loves Elmira and wants to end his career there (that option seems, um, unlikely). Either way, it’s a pretty bizarre story.
Needless to say, we’ll be following how this plays out. He’s too big, too good, with too much experience to spend much (if any) time in the ECHL.
UPDATE: Puck Daddy had this video interview with Rivet and his new coach Pat Bingham. Check it out if you’re interested.