The Buffalo Sabres have placed Patrick Kaleta on waivers.(USATSI)
Is this the end for Patrick Kaleta? The Buffalo Sabres announced they've placed the forward on waivers just as his 10-game suspension for a high hit on Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Jack Johnson ended. The likelihood of Kaleta being claimed is awfully slim (try to hold back, Flyers), meaning one of the NHL's most reviled players will likely be plying his trade in the American Hockey League.
This is an opportunity for Kaleta to either reimagine his game or find another line of work. Sabres general manager Darcy Regier said about as much in the team's announcement:
'This was a move we thought was necessary to help Pat change his game and preserve his career in this league,' Regier said. 'We believe in Pat as a person and we hope he will continue his career in our organization and, if the circumstances are right, with the Buffalo Sabres.'
Other players have reformed from their rat-like ways. Matt Cooke is probably the shining example, having vastly cleaned up his act after multiple suspensions. Can Kaleta do the same?
Basically, he has to. For years Kaleta has been a danger to the other players on the ice.
Over the last three seasons, Kaleta has been suspended 19 games and lost nearly $250,000 in salary. His wallet could probably use a little help, too.
There's a difference between playing on the edge and playing dirty. Kaleta, a native of Buffalo, has played dirty and too many times embarrassed his organization with his antics. They're at least giving him a chance to prove he can change, which is somewhat commendable. Maybe a little late, but still commendable.
The 27-year-old forward is under contract with Buffalo until next 2014-15, making $1.25 million per year whether he is in the NHL or not.