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Surprise! Grigorenko refuses to join junior team

Jan 11, 2014, 3:17 PM EDT

Mikhail Grigorenko Getty Images

The Buffalo Sabres want Mikhail Grigorenko to play hockey and they want him to do it with his junior team, the Quebec Remparts of the QMJHL, as they assigned him there this morning.

Grigorenko apparently has other ideas.

According to Kathleen Lavoie of La Presse (link in French), Grigorenko is refusing to report to Quebec. That report was confirmed by Bill Hoppe of the Olean Times Herald via Grigorenko’s agent, Jay Grossman. The agent wouldn’t comment further until he spoke with the team.

At 19 years old, Grigorenko doesn’t have many options on where to go. He’s too young to be assigned to the AHL and playing junior hockey is essentially his only outlet if he’s not staying in Buffalo. The Sabres have some injuries amongst their forwards, but they want Grigorenko to develop somewhere other than in the NHL. They probably don’t want it to be in the KHL, however.

  1. buffalowned - Jan 11, 2014 at 3:25 PM

    He needs to work on his skating and defense to have success in the NHL..just hard to tell if he really wants it

    • nflfan4now - Jan 12, 2014 at 8:49 AM

      This is Regier’s last gift to the Sabres. He mismanaged him so bad last year his contract is all screwed up. Best thing that could happen is for him to get poached by the KHL for a few years, delaying the last few years of his contract. Hopefully then he will learn to play like a professional.

  2. 950003cups - Jan 11, 2014 at 3:25 PM

    Since it’s not the NHL affiliate, does he have to join them?

  3. killerpgh - Jan 11, 2014 at 3:29 PM

    They need to get rid of this rule (or at least make exceptions) that doesn’t allow players under 20 to play in the AHL. It needs to be about what is best for the player(s) development and not what is best for the various junior league. Players like Grigorenko will dominate Juniors, but isn’t quite ready for the NHL and need to be able to play in the AHL to best develop.

    • killhowe - Jan 11, 2014 at 4:38 PM

      Have an exception-rule similar to the OHL drafting players a year early.

    • atwatercrushesokoye - Jan 11, 2014 at 8:54 PM

      I agree teams should be given one exemption a year or even one every two years (players would be allowed to play in the A for 2 seasons with it counting as the same though. Some players are just too developed for the juniors but not NHL ready yet.

  4. 19to77 - Jan 11, 2014 at 3:29 PM

    Brace yourselves. KHL contracts are coming. I’d be a little surprised if he didn’t take one. Nothing to do with the “Russian factor” or anything like that – just recognition that Buffalo’s as far as they can be from Cup contention and STILL won’t give him NHL ice time while almost every KHL team would use him as a full-time roster player. In his place, would you want to play in Rochester seemingly forever, or with family watching back home? Bad prospect management by the Sabres. As if that were news to anyone.

    • 19to77 - Jan 11, 2014 at 3:32 PM

      Oh, wow, he’s still under 20, nevermind. Rochester would actually be an improvement. Jeez, I thought he was 21 for some reason. Still, same argument – between the Remparts and a KHL team close to home, I doubt he’s gonna favour the Q.

    • bullwinkle88 - Jan 11, 2014 at 5:26 PM

      No. This kid does not deserve to be in the NHL. If you’ve ever seen him play, you will understand my point. Now he’s acting childish to boot. I’m sure the Sabres would love to trade him at this point, but all they could get for him would be a bag of pucks.

      He wasn’t mismanaged by them. He simply thinks he’s entitled.

      • cmmorgan32 - Jan 11, 2014 at 9:22 PM

        Part of it is mismanagement while the other part is the “under 20″ rule for CHL players joining the NHL. If it was possible, I’m sure Buffalo would’ve loved to send Grigorenko to Rochester last year and this year. Perhaps it would make more sense for Buffalo to loan Grigorenko to a European club rather than have him back with the Remparts.

    • atwatercrushesokoye - Jan 11, 2014 at 8:56 PM

      I don’t think anything will happen until after the Olympics, the Russians won’t want to mess with the IIHF rules ahead of their home games, he’ll end up in the KHL immediately after the Olympics though.

  5. kevinconvertiv - Jan 11, 2014 at 3:34 PM

    While I think it is a childish move I get why he is upset.

    They have been bringing guys in off the scrap heap to play on this team and he went to the WJC where he performed well within his age group. I wouldn’t want to go down to a level I would dominate either. They’ve yanked him around for two years.

    His development hasn’t been handled properly at all.

    • bullwinkle88 - Jan 11, 2014 at 5:28 PM

      They have been bringing in NHL players to play on this team. Not kids who don’t have the drive and determination to make it in the league.

      Look at Girgensons as a comparison. See what I mean?

      • rabidbillsfan - Jan 11, 2014 at 6:26 PM

        In all fairness to Grigerenko, Girgensons played with Low-end NHL talent in the AHL all of last season, and performed well, Grigerenko was thrown to the wolves and wasn’t exactly given every opportunity to succeed. However, It has been 3 coaches now that do not see “it” with the Kid, so I put 0 onus on the team, and it has to be something to do with his attitude and preparation. If he doesn’t want to play in Juniors, then this is really your only choice… let him play in the NHL this season, don’t worry about production, ice time etc and see what happens. If he improves, great. If not, you can bury him in the AHL next season, it’s not as if he needs to make or break your draft, Girgensons is developing into a possible top-6′er and you still will be picking high at least the next 2 seasons (With 2 picks in the 1st in 1 of the 2 drafts.) While I do agree the game of musical chairs is old, he’s still a kid, with 0 NHL credibility, do what your coaches and management tell you and make the best of it, be a world beater, not a world hater.

  6. DTF31 - Jan 11, 2014 at 3:36 PM

    I don’t know why Buffalo just doesn’t play him in the top9 and give him PP time. The season is a lost cause. Stop playing scrubs high up in the lineup and put your kids there.

    Its the most frustrating thing about a bad rebuilding team. Coaches/GMs that insist on crappy veterans high in the lineup at the cost of developing a young player.

    • thesportsjudge - Jan 11, 2014 at 5:11 PM

      Maybe if they trade their “captain” that would clear up a scrub spot.

      • thomasvanek - Jan 11, 2014 at 9:33 PM

        Ott is a great captain m o r o n. He tries the hardest on the team other than the goalies.

    • bullwinkle88 - Jan 11, 2014 at 5:29 PM

      They have to earn the right to play in the NHL. Veteran players have done that. He hasn’t. It’s that simple.

      Take any “scrap heap” veteran they’ve added and see that that guy is still much better than Grigorenko.

      Stop blaming the team when it’s the player’s fault.

    • atwatercrushesokoye - Jan 11, 2014 at 9:00 PM

      I’ve been frustrated by similar things with the Flames, why not bring up the young guys and give them ice time? The only thing I can think of is that with the AHL team being quite good they want the players to experience winning rather than being brought up to lose.

      I don’t know what the Q standings look like but Quebec City is usually pretty good, perhaps they want him to go play big minutes in a winning environment?

    • braddavery - Jan 12, 2014 at 3:13 AM

      Bologna. The kid just isn’t ready and is spinning his wheels in the NHL. 8 points in 43 career NHL games and you want to act like he’s developing and the Sabres are impeding that? lol Give me a break. He’s NOT developing, that is the point.

  7. lowenni - Jan 11, 2014 at 3:38 PM

    Uhhhh…swap him for another prospect in Calgary? No one else is gonna want to take a flyer on him and play him on their NHL team…

    • atwatercrushesokoye - Jan 11, 2014 at 9:03 PM

      Something tells me he doesn’t fit the Brian Burke mould. But he’d be wasted here, Hartley is awful with young players, look at the way he screwed Baertschi around and he’s bounced Monohan down to the 4th line at times, there’s zero point in having Monohan here if he’s going to play 4th line minutes with 4th line players.

  8. joey4id - Jan 11, 2014 at 3:46 PM

    I think this is a big mistake for any 18 & 19 year old. You don’t go up against the team that feeds you. Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.

    Unfortunately, the CBA is clear with respect to the options available to and under 20 year old player, and it won’t change until the current one expires. You’ve got to question the efficiency for the communication between the Sabres brass (Lafontaine, Murray, Nolan) and team Grigorenko. You’d think all these hockey people would have discussed and agreed to the action to be taken before making the announcing.

    (c) During the seasons set forth in (a) and (b) above, the age 18 and age 19 Player,
    respectively, may be Loaned to the minor league team affiliate of his Club when his Junior team is no longer in competition and provided he has been listed on the Club’s minor league eligibility

    The junior league is the primary development league for under 20 year old players. You take that away from them you take away their life line. Whether or not they should provide language for exceptions remains to be debated, but that will be for another time.

    • 19to77 - Jan 11, 2014 at 4:13 PM

      Thing is, the team that feeds you doesn’t have to be the biggest display of incompetence and amateurism in the NHL. There are KHL organizations that legitimately run themselves more respectably than the Buffalo Sabres, and they’re an entire ocean closer to home. He’s given them over two years. They’ve shown no progress whatsoever. Why continue to humour Buffalo’s ineptitude with the KHL knocking at his door?

      • joey4id - Jan 11, 2014 at 4:18 PM

        Because you’ve got to give the new management team a chance.

      • bullwinkle88 - Jan 11, 2014 at 5:31 PM

        What in hell are you talking about? Regier set the Sabres up well to rebuild into a top contending team. The new management has the same objective and will do so on Darcy’s shoulders.

    • cmmorgan32 - Jan 11, 2014 at 9:41 PM

      The problem is the “under 20″ rule only applies to players coming from the CHL. There are no AHL restrictions if you’re coming from anywhere else. The CHL, AHL, and NHL will probably need to discuss the possibility of changing that rule or include exemptions for guys like Grigorenko (too good for CHL, but not NHL ready).

      • elvispocomo - Jan 12, 2014 at 3:15 PM

        The reason why it’s that way is the CHL is a developmental league that relies on revenue generated from star players not good enough to stick with their NHL team. If they allow the NHL to send some players to the AHL on exceptions then they suffer and less revenue means less they can reinvest in developing the other players that also deserve a chance to make hockey their career. That’s why there’s an agreement in place.

  9. muckleflugga - Jan 11, 2014 at 5:07 PM

    joey4id

    your argument reflects the patronizing attitude toward young players generally held in north american professional hockey…the stand made by eric lindros and his mother bared that reality for what it was and remains…

    the idea young players are somehow to be held as indentured slaves…

    tied by some misguided sense of allegiance to owners who view them as so much meat…a profit engendering commodity, fatted and preened…to be exploited down the road…so much for the emancipation proclamation

    it’s all a bit yesterday…

    made so by the emergence of the khl as a hockey powerhouse…where it would appear juniors come out of the european loop to professional hockey with relative ease…it would seem the khl sees it most precious commodity, young men with emerging strength and ability, as persons rather than children, able to develop in the forum where they’re expected to compete…

    made possible by relative safety functioning in its milieu…protected by cerebral approach to the game precluding savagery nurtured in the north american game [ cry havoc, let slip the apes of hockey ]

    by way of example, the young men in edmonton would be headlining superstars in europe, likely able to earn money par with present contracts, in years to come, with longer shelf-life…bigger ice…smaller probability of maiming

    grigorenko’s stand will be the trending thing as the khl infrastructure and money-base grows to compete on equal footing

    exposure in winter olympics to massive audience…hype

    television

  10. bullwinkle88 - Jan 11, 2014 at 5:33 PM

    There was a reason he dropped to the 12th pick. I’m thinking this was it.

  11. swesson57 - Jan 11, 2014 at 5:34 PM

    He is a baby! He is acting like a child. Oh wait, he is a child.

  12. pmonte3122 - Jan 11, 2014 at 6:23 PM

    He’s already stated he doesn’t want to play in the khl… So there goes that…

    • badgerhockey77 - Jan 11, 2014 at 8:38 PM

      I was just about to ask about him going to the KHL. He wants to stay? Wow! I would have thought he’d be on a plane back to Russia already. I think eventually we will see Grigerenko bail and go back home. Perhaps Yakupov too. They’ve gotta be frustrated at being stuck in two terrible organizations. Bigger paychecks and more playing time await them in the KHL.

      • elvispocomo - Jan 12, 2014 at 3:21 PM

        The KHL can’t woo him back while he has a contract with Buffalo. The KHL isn’t going to risk the agreement they have with the NHL over a young player who doesn’t have the star power of someone much more established. If they had the opportunity to get a Malkin or Ovechkin, however, they might have to think on that.

        And if Grigorenko continues to get played like this, he may well change his mind on whether or not the KHL is an option once his contract is up.

  13. hockeyflow33 - Jan 11, 2014 at 10:23 PM

    I wonder why he’s reluctant to go from making $925k to a few hundred bucks.

  14. multiplemiggs - Jan 12, 2014 at 10:43 PM

    send him down here to long island, he can work for me painting the house and scrubbing the bathrooms

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