In case you were unaware, (former) Caps center Eric Belanger signed a one-year contract with the Phoenix Coyotes yesterday. Sources at ESPN indicated the deal is worth about $750,000. Belanger played 24 games for the Caps last season after being snagged from the Minnesota Wild at the trade deadline.
What’s news today, however, is the fact that apparently Belanger has been lashing out at Caps management for reneging on a verbal contract. (The Caps have said they never had a contract agreement with the former center.) Belanger had apparently taken the Caps at their word at the end of July, when they (apparently) deferred putting the deal down on paper due to a possible trade in the works that could affect his contract. “We had a verbal agreement over seven weeks ago, and they said it would take about a week to make a trade. It wasn’t a question of if we were making it, it as a question of when you’re gonna be signed, because they didn’t want to lose any leverage on the trade, and we all know the story after that. I’m no lawyer guy, but the line has been crossed, and now I’m looking ahead. I have a great opportunity in Phoenix, and I want to play good for that organization. I feel wanted by them in Phoenix.”
Belanger became a fan favorite after he did some self-service dental cleaning during Game 5 of the series against Montreal. He’d taken a stick to his mouth from Canadiens defensman Marc-Andre Bergeron, losing eight teeth. He still played another 10 minutes that night, despite serious emergency dental work to trim some exposed roots.