Columbus Blue Jackets forward Derick Brassard has drawn the ire of Austrian team EC Red Bull Salzburg by leaving the club three weeks after signing a lockout deal.
Brassard left Austria on Tuesday under a hailstorm of controversy, laid out for all to see in a statement on the Red Bull website:
Canadian Derick Brassard today, Tuesday, left Salzburg for Canada. His departure has baffled EC Red Bull Salzburg, given that the 25-year-old forward personally confirmed his intention to stay with the Red Bulls only last Wednesday and had also been notified of the deadline for finalising the squad for the Erste Bank Eishockey Liga (last Saturday). In the knowledge that his departure from the club after just one game – last Sunday against Linz – has necessitated the first of three possible exchanges, Derick Brassard has turned his back on the club today, despite contractual obligations and reassurances to the contrary.
After the player, who is contracted to the Columbus Blue Jackets, cleared his things from the dressing room on Monday morning without warning, the Red Bulls tried in vain to contact him by telephone. The powers that be at the Salzburg club then contacted Derick Brassard personally to let him know that they were unwilling to let the Canadian go. He was told not to do anything hasty that he might later regret, and he was reminded in no uncertain terms of the contractual situation. Unfortunately, Derick Brassard still flew out of Salzburg this morning.
The Red Bulls will be notifying the IIHF of the player’s breach of contract and will be seeking legal advice.
Brassard played just six games for Salzburg before departing, scoring 4G-1A-5PTS.
As for reasons why he might’ve left? According to Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch, they might’ve come from behind the bench.
Salzburg coach Pierre Page — formerly an NHL coach with Quebec, Calgary, Minnesota and Anaheim — is regarded as one of the most demanding coaches in all of hockey.
One agent last month referred to him as the “John Tortorella of Europe,” a reference to the New York Rangers’ brash, confrontational coach.
It should be noted that Brassard’s Columbus teammate, Derek Dorsett, also recently left Red Bull. In speaking to the Dispatch, Dorsett said he returned to Canada “to wait for the NHL lockout to end,” then forwarded all further inquiries to his agent.