Flyers buy out LeClair, Amonte
The NHL's new economic system has already had an impact on two veteran hockey stars.
Forwards John LeClair and Tony Amonte had their contracts bought out by the Philadelphia Flyers, the team announced at a Saturday news conference.
The moves are related to the ratification of the NHL's new collective bargaining agreement with its players, which was completed Friday.
Under the new CBA, teams must now work within a salary cap structure, meaning some clubs will want to shed high-priced veterans in search of more affordable options.
Flyers general manager Bob Clarke informed both players of the buyouts Saturday morning.
"Obviously I'm disappointed," LeClair told the Associated Press. "But it was something I was prepared for. I knew it was a very realistic possibility for over a year now. My disappointment comes from knowing my years with the Flyers are over."
LeClair, 36, has spent the past 10 seasons as a core member of the Flyers.
He joined Eric Lindros and Mikael Renberg to form the so-called "Legion of Doom", one of the most prolific lines during the mid-1990s.
LeClair posted five straight seasons with 40 or more goals from 1995-96 to 1999-2000. However, injuries slowed the left-winger in recent years, as he didn't reach the 30-goal plateau in any of the past four campaigns.
Prior to the lockout, LeClair was set to earn $9 million this season, reduced to $6.84 million with the league-wide 24 per cent pay cut.
LeClair, who underwent back surgery in May, said he plans to continue his NHL career.
Amonte, who turns 35 on Aug. 2, was set to make $4.26 million after the salary reduction.
The 14-year veteran of the Flyers, New York Rangers, Chicago Blackhawks and Phoenix Coyotes was one of the most consistent offensive producers throughout the 1990s.
Amonte has 392 goals and 436 assists over 1013 career regular-season contests.
The buyouts will give the Flyers room to make qualifying offers to restricted free agents.
"It's not based on their play, it's based on the economics," said Flyers head coach Ken Hitchcock.
"I just think that the things that both John and Tony had not just for the Flyers, but for the game of hockey, is they were two guys that came with a lot of class."
The LeClair and Amonte moves are the first of what is expected to be a busy week of player movement and transactions across the NHL.
Owners have the ability to buy players out of their contracts at two-thirds of their value without counting against the salary cap within 10 days after the CBA officially takes effect. This is meant to help teams fit under the cap, but the clubs won't be able to re-sign those same players
The deadline for exercising club or player options for 2005-2006, signing 2003 draftees and making the required offers is Thursday.
The deadline for buying out player contracts is 5 p.m. ET Friday.
with files from the Associated Press