By Jim Diamond
Mike Ribeiro’s exit from Phoenix was quick and unpleasant.
Prior to last season, the talented center inked a 4-year, $22 million deal with the then Phoenix Coyotes. After just one season in the desert, the team decided to buy out the remaining years of his contract, making him a free agent.
Following the buyout, stories emerged of personal problems that manifested themselves into being professional ones, causing Ribeiro problems with the team – reportedly being late for practice, late for the team bus, and even a shouting match with team head coach Dave Tippett.
Well into the free agency period, the Predators took a chance and signed Ribeiro to a one-year deal at just north of $1 million. With everyone calling it a last chance for him, Ribeiro has taken care of his off-ice issues and so far on-ice, the team’s top center looks to be on top of his game.
Against the Coyotes Tuesday night, Ribeiro scored once and added an assist. Not expected to score a ton of goals, he is tied for the team lead in that category with three. His five points also are tied for the best on the Predators so far on the young season.
Sure his goal Tuesday night was one he freely admitted to scoring while he attempted and fanned on a pass, but when things are going right for you, pucks like that go into the net.
Nashville brought him here mostly for his playmaking ability and he did just that on James Neal’s game-tying goal at 8:03 of the third.
Former Predator Martin Erat’s power play goal just 21 seconds earlier gave Arizona a lead, but Ribeiro found Neal in the left circle with a drop pass that the sniper buried behind Arizona goaltender Devan Dubnyk, another former, albeit very briefly, Predator.
Under terms of his buyout with the Coyotes per Cap Geek, he will receive $1,944,444 per season through the 2019-20. With his $1,050,000 salary with the Predators and based on an approximately 180 day season, he receives $10,802.46 from Arizona for each in-season day and $5,833.33 from the Predators.
Asked if he felt pressure to contribute in a game in which he was being paid by both teams, Ribeiro said the thought never crossed his mind.
“Yeah, I didn’t think about that,” he said. “I’m really focused on playing games. The salary comes with the job. It’s not something I was thinking about. I’m thinking about my game more than the salary.”
Following his media availability, Ribeiro walked down the hallway from the Predators dressing room toward the one for Arizona. There he greeted some former teammates and Coyotes staffers. Soon thereafter, Tippett emerged from the Arizona room to greet Ribeiro. The two shared a warm handshake and a long conversation.
Ribeiro is just six games into his “last chance” season here in Nashville. The early returns are very positive, both on the ice, and probably more importantly, off of it as well.