Coyotes place Ruzicka on waivers, aiming to terminate contract

The Arizona Coyotes placed Adam Ruzicka on waivers with the intent to terminate his contract, the team confirmed to Sportsnet on Friday.

“We have placed forward Adam Ruzicka on unconditional waivers for purposes of terminating his contract,” a spokesman for the team told Sportsnet. “The club will have no further comment at this time.”

The release comes in the wake of a video being circulated online, since taken down, that shows a white powder on a plate and then Ruzicka putting a vial in his mouth. Sportsnet has viewed the video but not been able to independently verify the contents of the video or its source.

The NHL did not immediately respond when contacted by Sportsnet for comment.

Ruzicka, 24, was a fourth-round pick (109th overall) by the Calgary Flames at the 2017 NHL Draft. In 114 games with the Flames, the centre had 14 goals and 26 assists for 40 points.

He was claimed off waivers by the Coyotes from the Flames on Jan. 25. In three games with the Coyotes, he had no points. Ruzicka is in the second season of a two-year contract worth $1.525 million. 

Ruzicka is the second player in the league this season to have his contract terminated, following Corey Perry with Chicago Blackhawks after they said the veteran winger violated team workplace policy. The NHL Players’ Association asked for and was granted an extension of the window for Perry to file a grievance, and he’s back playing with Edmonton.

The NHLPA declined to comment when contacted by Sportsnet about Ruzicka. The union has 60 days to file a grievance against any contract termination.

There is precedent for the NHL to punish players for off-ice conduct such as Ruzicka’s. Washington’s Evgeny Kuznetsov was suspended three games in 2019 for “inappropriate conduct,” less than a month after he was banned from playing for Russia for four years because of a positive test for cocaine.

Kuznetsov faced allegations of drug use at the world championships that year after a video posted on social media showed him near a table with lines of white powder and American dollar bills.

–with files from The Associated Press