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Mike Ribeiro takes less money to stay in Nashville

Sometimes a signing isn’t just a signing, it’s a statement: a declaration that it’s not always about how much money an agent can wring from a team or how deep a discount a team can exact from a player.

Could Mike Ribeiro, arguably the most talented center on the free-agent landscape this offseason, have gotten more money and maybe more term than the $7 million over two years he received from the Nashville Predators on Wednesday?

History says yes, and Ribeiro's bounce-back with the Predators last season, finishing second on the team in scoring with 62 points and adding five points in six games in the playoffs, reinforces that notion, especially given how few centers are available this summer.

But after some to-ing and fro-ing that suggested Ribeiro might chase more money or term elsewhere, the 35-year-old Montreal native returned to the team that gave him a chance to resurrect his career.

A year ago at the draft, the Arizona Coyotes bought out Ribeiro's contract after just one season, the product of significant off-ice issues that deteriorated his play on the ice and became a significant distraction in the Coyotes’ locker room.

The Predators, after doing their due diligence, including long conversations with Ribeiro and his wife, signed him to a one-year deal. General manager David Poile made it clear to Ribeiro that with any shenanigans away from the rink, the team would cut ties immediately.

Did the deal represent a last chance for Ribeiro? Maybe.

And Ribeiro made good on his new leash with professional hockey, reconciling with his wife and family and moving all of them to Nashville, where they were active in team activities.

On the ice, he returned to form and was a catalyst for rookie of the year finalist Filip Forsberg's breakout season and helped the Predators return to the playoffs after a two-year absence.

With Mike Fisher also re-signing with Nashville in recent days, the Predators are once again stronger down the middle and should again be in the hunt for the Central Division crown.

The new contract does not erase Ribeiro’s past, and indeed there are still issues dogging him.

There is an outstanding civil suit relating to allegations of misconduct with a nanny who previously worked with the family, though no criminal charges have been filed -- something Poile noted in talking with local reporters leading up to Ribeiro’s signing.

During an extensive interview with ESPN.com last winter, Ribeiro admitted to his heavy drinking and drug use in Arizona and said he is in programs to deal with a variety of off-ice behavioral issues.

Ribeiro told ESPN.com Wednesday that the uncertainty of having to move his family, buy a new house, locate to a new NHL city, get his kids enrolled in hockey and other activities in a new community was something he wanted to avoid.

"It just made sense to stay here even if I could get more somewhere else," Ribeiro said.

"I was really comfortable here and I wanted to stay here. And we’re a top team I think."

That he and the Predators found a way to continue their relationship suggests maybe this is a pretty good fit for both the player and the team, a fit that works on a number of levels.