The Arizona Coyotes knew Mike Ribeiro had behavioural issues when they signed him before last season, but hoped a reunion with coach Dave Tippett would help him.
It didn’t, at least not to the Coyotes’ satisfaction.
The Coyotes initiated a buyout of the final three years of Ribeiro’s contract on Friday, parting ways with their top off-season acquisition from a year ago.
“Mike had some real behavioural issues we felt we could not tolerate going forward,” Coyotes general manager Don Maloney said.
The Coyotes had sought a playmaking centre for years and appeared to have landed one when they signed Ribeiro to a four-year, $22-million contract last off-season.
He was one of the top free agents on the market last year and was considered a major coup for the franchise’s new ownership group, IceArizona, which had agreed on a lease agreement to keep the team in Glendale just three days earlier.
The 34-year-old Ribeiro showed flashes of the brilliance he had in Washington, where he played at a point-per-game pace during the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season.
But as the season wore on, Ribeiro became less effective and struggled with personal problems despite playing for Tippett, his former coach in Dallas.
Ribeiro was a healthy scratch in games against Pittsburgh and New Jersey late in the season while the Coyotes were fighting for a playoff spot and was largely ineffective down the stretch. He finished with 16 goals and 31 assists in 80 games.
The Coyotes became the Arizona Coyotes on Friday.