The Montreal Canadiens made a solid grab when they claimed penalty killing forward Blair Betts off of waivers. The Habs can cross him off their depth charts, however, as he was returned to the Philadelphia Flyers after failing a physical.
It’s unclear if Betts is still dealing with shoulder issues that have been a problem for some time. Betts said that it’s a lower-body injury instead, but whatever the ailment might be, he’s not going to suit up with the Canadiens.
In a way, this might be a blessing in disguise for Philly, even if it’s initially embarrassing.
Despite killing nine of the first 10 penalties they’ve faced, the Flyers could probably use more forward options when shorthanded. Betts will likely need to clear re-entry waivers (things get a little fuzzy with injury issues like these) to join Philadelphia again, but a reasonably healthy Betts could be a nice defensive asset. Even if they’re obviously not that fond of him in the first place. CSNPhilly.com’s Sarah Baicker expands on the roster size issues this could cause.
Update: Here’s NHL commissioner Gary Bettman’s explanation for the decision.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman rendered the decision after reviewing submissions from both Clubs. By-Law 11.8 (a) states: “The Member Club acquiring a player by waiver claim shall take an assignment of the player’s contract. Nevertheless, if the Commissioner determines that a player acquired by waiver claim is not physically fit at the time the claim is made, the Member Club making the claim may refuse to take an assignment of such player’s contract and the request for waivers shall be cancelled.”
In reaching his decision, Commissioner Bettman stated: “While it is clear that both clubs have acted in good faith in this unique situation (i.e. a waiver claim), I am not prepared to dispute the conclusion of the Montreal Club doctors that Mr. Betts was physically unfit to play at the time of the claim. Therefore, it is my decision that, per League By-Laws, the appropriate resolution to this matter is to restore the parties to the
position they were in prior to the waiver claim on Oct. 5.”