Defenseman Josh Gorges told reporters Monday he does not expect to return to the Montreal Canadiens for the 2014-15 season, with a trade the most likely outcome.
"It's out of my hands whether I'll be back or not," Gorges told La Presse. "But it's my understanding it's not going to be the case."
He told the Montreal Gazette, "I want people to know that I never wanted to leave Montreal. In no way has this been my decision."
Gorges has four seasons left on his contract, which has an average annual value of $3.9 million.
The Gazette reported the Canadiens had a trade worked out that would have sent Gorges to the Toronto Maple Leafs, but the Leafs are one of the teams Gorges listed in his contract that he could not be traded to without his permission.
Defense - MTL
GOALS: 1 | ASST: 13 | PTS: 14
SOG: 35 | +/-: 6
He told the Gazette he was surprised when the team reached out to him via his agent to gauge his willingness to accept the trade.
"My meetings went, I feel, as well as they possibly could have gone," Gorges said. "At the end of the season, the way it finished [losing to the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference Final], obviously there's disappointment in not following through in what we set out to do. But besides that, there definitely was no indication on my part that I would no longer be here."
Gorges told the Gazette he has added teams to the list that he would accept a trade to but would not reveal them to the newspaper. Gorges also said that if a trade can't be worked out, he knows he could be placed on waivers and have his contract bought out.
"It's something that you definitely have to sit and discuss," he told the Gazette. "I have to discuss it with my wife. Do we take that chance and roll the dice and then let the chips fall where they may and go wherever we end up? Or do we decide that [a trade destination] is a good fit for us and we can do well there? I have to make those decisions when they approach me."
Gorges had 14 points, a plus-6 rating and 12 penalty minutes in 66 regular-season games in 2013-14 and two assists in 17 Stanley Cup Playoff games. He averaged 21:14 in ice time per game during the regular season, but that number rose to 23:26 per game during the playoffs. He's also been first or second on the team in shorthanded ice time for five straight seasons.
The 29-year-old has spent the past eight seasons with the Canadiens; he was acquired from the San Jose Sharks on Feb. 25, 2007 along with the Sharks' 2007 first-round draft pick, which the Canadiens used to select forward Max Pacioretty, in exchange for defenseman Craig Rivet.
In 464 games with the Canadiens he has 13 goals, 88 points and a plus-34 rating.