What Lamoriello calls retirement, agent calls 'leave'

Updated: December 20, 2005, 12:31 AM ET
By E.J. Hradek | ESPN The Magazine

Devils president and GM Lou Lamoriello tried to reload the New Jersey Devis quickly, signing stopgap vets Dan McGillis and Vladimir Malakhov.

But neither man (nor fellow free-agent acquisition Richard Matvichuk) has been particularly good in the "new" NHL, and all three have taken turns in the club's doghouse.

In fact, the club placed McGillis (and his $2.2 million salary) on waivers late last week. Once he cleared, they were planning to send him down to the minors to create cap space for the soon-to-be returning Patrik Elias, who has missed the first part of the season due to illness.

Earlier in the season, they made a similar money-saving move with tough-guy winger Krzysztof Oliwa ($835,000). But an unforeseen circumstance may change McGillis' minor-league fate.

On Monday, during a question-and-answer session with reporters, Lamoriello said Malakhov had decided to retire. According to Lamoriello, the lanky Russian defender had made his decision on the flight back to New Jersey after Saturday's 4-1 loss in Carolina. If that's the case, it would be a gift from the salary-cap gods. Malakhov's $3.6 million annual salary -- he signed a two-year contract with the club in August -- would come off the books. That would enable the Devils to keep McGillis on the big-league roster. Lamoriello said he was planning to sign veteran Tommy Albelin to fill the spot. However, Malakhov's agent, Paul Theofanous, claims (through a spokesman) that Malakhov has not retired. Instead, Theofanous says, Malakhov requested a personal leave of absence.

When contacted with the contradictory statement, a Devils spokesman said it's the club's position that Malakhov had indeed retired. Lamoriello could not immediately be reached for further comment.

This situation is ... to be continued.

EJ Hradek covers hockey for ESPN The Magazine. E-mail him at ej.hradek@espnmag.com. Also, click here to send EJ a question for possible use on ESPNEWS.

E.J. Hradek

Senior Writer, ESPN The Magazine
E.J. Hradek is a senior writer at ESPN The Magazine, joining the staff prior to its launch in 1998. He began covering hockey as a writer/editor for Hockey Illustrated in 1989.