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Canadiens send Gomez home for the season; will likely be bought out over summer @NHL

BROSSARD, Que. - The Montreal Canadiens have sent centre Scott Gomez home for the season.

New general manager Marc Bergevin said at the opening of training camp that he will buy out Gomez's contract next summer to remove his team-high US$7.3 million salary cap hit from the books.

Under the new collective bargaining agreement signed Saturday, the cap is to plunge by about $10 million next season, but teams will be allowed two "amnesty" buyouts to help reach the cap.

However, if a player is injured, he cannot be bought out.

Bergevin said it was safest for the team that Gomez not play this season.

"I have nothing against Scott Gomez," he said. "It was the best thing for the future of the team."

Gomez has been a disappointment on the ice the last two seasons. Last season, the 33-year-old centre was limited to 38 games by injuries and had two goals and nine assists.

Gomez was informed of the decision early Sunday morning, before the team took to the ice to start camp.

"He was very professional," said Bergevin. "He understands the situation."

Bergevin said he met with agent on Saturday to get a new deal with defenceman P.K. Subban signed soon.

"Our goal is to sign P.K. And his goal is to play in Montreal," he said. "We just haven't agreed yet."

Subban was not at camp.

Centres Tomas Plekanec (ribs) and Petteri Nokelainen (back) were also not skating.

The team announced it has invited fans to an intrasquad game for free on Thursday night at the Bell Centre.

Louis Leblanc, Patrick Holland, Michael Bournival, Frederic St-Denis and Michael Blunden, who were not invited to training camp, will be called up from the AHL's Hamilton Bulldogs for the game.

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