In all seriousness, Elmira's jerseys are indistinguishable from CBJ's. How comforting, I'm sure.

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.

Jesse Spector of the Sporting News shared a link to this release from Elmira’s website this morning, which shares the details of the signing.

Speculating on what you’re thinking is fun, sir.

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.

Comments (13)

  1. Agree sure looks like he’s not ready to stop playing and biding his time for an AHL or NHL? slot. While not right around the corner, I was wondering whether his family might still be based in the Buffalo area, which could have factored into the team/location decision.

  2. Yeah, I’m not sure, but at least that’d make some semblance of sense. In the end, I think you’re right – he’s probably just looking to get on the ice and stay sharp while his agent finds him the right situation.

  3. For a guy who has earned almost 25 million playing in the NHL, you gotta love that the passion for the game is still there. Good luck Craig.

  4. Definitely, right? He’s certainly not kicking around the bus leagues for the dough. (if he does, in fact, kick around there at all)

  5. The veteran rule in the AHL squeeze guys like that out, too. That’s how the Aeros got Ortmeyer. San Antonio was having to sit him every other game because they had too many vets to play them all. Boy was that ever our gain…. what a guy.

  6. Ah, yeah, GREAT point that I missed. Care to explain that for the folks at home? You’re a veteran after ___ pro games, I forget? And you’re only allowed to dress ___ vets per night, correct?

    • Veterans are any skater who’s played more than 260 or goaltender who’s played more than 320 regular season games in the NHL, AHL, IHL or European Elite League. AHL teams have a limit of 6 veterans dressed for a game (11 non-veterans if they dress 17 skaters, 12 if they dress 18 skaters).

      I’m sure that he’s in Elmira because of its proximity to many other cities. It’s in the middle of nowhere, but also a 6 hour or less drive to over half (16) of the AHL cities and another 9 or so NHL cities.

  7. AHL vet defined as more than 320 pro games played (NHL/AHL/IHL and some European leagues)

    Five (5) vets can dress in a game; an additional player can dress who has played more than 260 games but less than 320 games. Among the 18 skaters only, does not include goalies.

    Can dress fewer vets if want, but no more than those numbers can have played those games.

    Can carry as many vets as team wants on the roster, this is game by game how many players can dress for a given game. For example, the Hershey Bears are carrying 6 vets (Aucoin, Bourque, Kane, Mink, Potulny, & Richmond) right now, so while all are healthy at least one must sit per game; this past weekend Richmond sat out game 1, Mink sat out game 2.

    See faqs page for the exact wording.

  8. Habs could use him right about now

  9. Must hate his home life. Missing kids events and the day to day stuff to play in the ECHL?
    Its one thing to play until you can’t because you love the game. It’s another if you are shuffling family around or are away for 9 months out if 12.

  10. Your comment about guys that love the game made me think of watching Mike Keane play for the Moose 2 seasons ago.
    It was late in the 3rd and Texas was up 3 or 4-0 on Manitoba. Keane was out there killing a penalty. He was diving to block shots from the point.

    Keane’s a three-time cup champion and there he was, 42 years old, playing his guts out in a game that his AHL team had no hope of winning.

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