By: Adam Gretz
Last year at this time Craig Rivet was starting his 17th year in the NHL and was the captain of the Buffalo Sabres.
This year, he's signing with the Elmira Jackals of the East Coast Hockey League, the lowest level of minor league hockey associated with the NHL, and taking on what will surely be a different kind of leadership role. Instead of skating with players like Tyler Myers and clearing the crease for Ryan Miller, Rivet will be the oldest player on a team that is loaded with prospects at the earliest stage of their development in their quest to make the NHL.
The Jackals announced the signing in a press release on Monday morning, with head coach Pat Bingham saying, "Craig's experience and leadership qualities are invaluable to any team. His work ethic will be a great example for our young players who are looking to advance in hockey."
Rivet, who just turned 37 in September, is the oldest player on the roster by a sizable margin, while the only other player listed on the roster over the age of 30 is Mario Larocque, a former first-round pick by the Tampa Bay Lightning back in 1996. To his credit, Rivet appears to be excited and eager about joining the team and seems to simply be interested in continuing to play hockey at a competitive level, whether it's with an NHL club or in the minor leagues.
Here's video of Rivet talking about joining the team:
In 923 NHL games Rivet scored 50 goals and logged over 1,100 penalty minutes with the Sabres, Blue Jackets, Canadiens and Sharks. A third-round draft pick by the Canadiens back in 1992, Rivet hasn't appeared in a minor league game since the 1996-97 season when he played 23 games with the now-defunct Fredericton Canadiens of the American Hockey League.
The Jackals open their season on Friday against the Trenton Titans.