Eric Belanger, who played 24 games with the Capitals last year, signed a one-year contract with the Phoenix Coyotes on Tuesday.
Belanger was at times the third center for the Capitals, so this is not an incredibly devastating loss. The real story, according to Katie Carerra, is that the Capitals had an agreement with Belanger in place pending a trade, but that the club had to pull out of the deal when they were unable to complete the deal.
Last month, the Capitals appeared to have an agreement in place that would bring Belanger back to Washington, pending the completion of a trade. The team never confirmed that it had an arrangement with Belanger, and on Tuesday, Capitals General Manager George McPhee declined to comment while a team spokesman reiterated that Washington never had a contract agreement with Belanger.
Belanger's agent, Joe Tacopina, said the Capitals did have a deal to bring back Belanger and even helped him sign a lease for a house in Washington and enroll his two daughters in area schools.
The Capitals may be denying that they had an agreement with Belanger in the strictest sense. But it seems like they might have had a wink wink deal in place, otherwise there would be no reason for Tacopina to react like this:
"It's just disingenuous," Tacopina said. "Despite a two-way commitment and requesting Eric to commit to them and take himself out of the [free agent] mix, when they wound up not being able to make the trade several weeks later, they decided they couldn't sign him."
The loss of Eric Belanger might not hurt the Capitals too much in the upcoming season, but the team does not want to earn the reputation of one that breaks promises.