The Manitoba Moose appear ready to move on quickly from left-winger Jonas Andersson, who has chosen to leave the team in favour of an opportunity in Russia’s KHL.
Andersson is on NHL waivers today and plans to go to AK Bars Kazan. He played in the KHL last season in Minsk but last summer opted to try the NHL one more time.
He landed a one-way contract with the NHL’s Nashville Predators, an agreement Moose coach Claude Noel said today included a guarantee Andersson wouldn’t play in the minor leagues.
But when Nashville traded Andersson to the Vancouver Canucks before the season started, well, that guarantee didn’t carry forward and the 29-year-old Swede wound up with the Moose.
And then just about half-way through the season, Andersson decided to pull the plug here.
"That’s just the way it goes," Noel told reporters this morning after the Moose finished their game-day skate in preparation to meet the Milwaukee Admirals at the MTS Centre tonight (7:30 p.m., CJOB). "It was a gentleman’s deal. That’s the way it goes in hockey."
The coach said the team won’t miss the speedy winger’s abilities, "Not if his heart isn’t completely in it," he said. "You need your players engaged, sorting out their own lives. I completely understand. It was a deal he was in a position to get when he came here. I understand how it goes. No disrespect to Jonas. He addressed the team today."
Those remarks to his soon-to-be-ex-teammates provided closure, one supposes, but not much else by the reaction of Moose captain Nolan Baumgartner.
"I don’t know if he had stuff worked out beforehand that if he was coming back to make an NHL career out of it and if that didn’t work out he had something where he could go back overseas and try to play out the rest of his career there," Baumgartner said this morning. "
Did Baumgartner and his teammates think Andersson was giving up on them?
"When I think about it, it’s something personally I wouldn’t do but it’s something, if it helps his career, you’d want the best for a guy," the captain said. "So if he thinks it’s the best for him, then he (should) go."
Andersson, who’s been battling his second concussion of the season the last week, has only played three NHL games with the Canucks this season.
In his 20 games with the Moose, he produced five goals and 11 points.
Tonight, Noel was excited about facing a team that’s like looking in the mirror.
The Moose have been much improved lately because they have been clearly better at defending.
Milwaukee, in turn, has played most of the season like that. It has had three 1-0 games this, two of those in shootouts. One was a scoreless tie with Toronto last Saturday that was decided by a shootout.
"This has the makeup to be a really good defensive battle, where the team that plays with weight may well be the team that ends up winning," Noel said.
"It’ll be a fun night for us."