Mike Smith: Losing Mike Ribeiro ‘real tough’

  • Marcus Burnan
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On Friday the Arizona Coyotes initialized the buy out of center Mike Ribeiro’s contract.  Ribeiro had signed the contract in July 2013.  It was a four-year contract worth $22 million

Coyotes general manager Don Maloney said the buyout was to do with the behavior issues of Ribeiro and nothing to do with cost cutting.

“Mike had some real behavioral issues we felt we could not tolerate going forward,” Coyotes general manager Don Maloney said. This has nothing to do with finances. Our goal is to become a successful, winning franchise. For us to move forward, we felt we had to make this change.”

Ribeiro was brought in to help solve the Coyotes’ desperate need for a playmaking top-line center.  Unfortunately for the Coyotes, Ribeiro didn’t live up to the expectation.  He only scored 16 goals in 80 appearances for the team.

The lower-than-expected production pro,pted Maloney to say that theam hadn’t had a top line center for the last 40 games of the season.

“Let’s be honest. We were out a top-line center for the last 40 games anyway. We all saw it.” said Maloney.

Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith appeared on the Burns And Gambo Show on Arizona Sports 98.7 to talk about how disappointing it was to lose a player of Ribeiro’s caliber.

“It’s real tough, I think it’s obviously disappointing to have signed a guy like that and have to see him go,” he said. “I played with with Mike in Dallas also so I know him a little bit better than some of the guys, but I wish him nothing but the best.  He’s obviously got some issues there, but I think he’s trying to get them resolved. And like I said, I wish him nothing but the best.”

Smith added that he and captain Shane Doan had talked to him during the course of the season in an attempt to try to get him to turn his production around but Ribeiro hadn’t done it often enough.  Smith conceded that DRibeiro had played some good minutes for the team, but wasn’t delivering was he was being paid.

“He played some good minutes for us, it was just the consistency of being a pro every day,” Smith said. “The NHL has gotten so good with players that are coming up through (the system), there are so many spots that are getting filled by younger talent and guys that are getting paid less that can kind of do a similar job.

“Like I said, he played good minutes for us but I think you pay a guy that much money, you expect more out of him on a consistent basis.”

The Coyotes are back at square one to find a center.  It is now up to  Antoine Vermette and Martin Hanzal as their top two centers unless they bring in another free agent.  On Saturday during the NHL Entry Draft, the Coyotes drafted two centers – Ryan MacInnis and Christian Dvorak – but neither is expected to push for a roster sport for the 2014-15 season.



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