SUNRISE, Fla. - Islanders defenseman Brendan Witt, who was activated off injured reserve Wednesday, has been placed on waivers.
The 34-year-old alternate captain, who has two goals and three assists and a plus/minus rating of -18 in 42 games, is known for his grit and toughness, but his ice time has dwindled significantly throughout the season.
The move came as a surprise to Witt.
"I'm kind of shocked, but it is what it is," Witt said after practice.
GM Garth Snow said the move is less of a knock on Witt's play but rather a testament to the development of some of the Islanders' young defensemen and the organization's confidence in their play.
"It's probably more indicative of how well Jack Hillen has performed, Andrew MacDonald, and most recently Dustin Kohn," Snow said. "For the way we want to play, it's an indication of how well they've played."
Nevertheless, it was a difficult move to make. "The nature of the beast is that in hockey, sometimes you have to make tough decisions and this was certainly one of them," he said. "Everyone knows what Brendan brings to the table. He's a quality person and a fierce competitor."
If Witt clears waivers at noon Thursday, he will report to Bridgeport.
"I'm sure he's disappointed," coach Scott Gordon said. "But we're a team in transition."
It is believed the Islanders shopped Witt but had difficulty moving him because of the year remaining on his contract.
Witt's reputation for toughness has been well-earned. Beyond the bite to his game and ability to battle through injuries, Witt also made headlines earlier this season when he was hit by an SUV crossing the street in Philadelphia, but still played that night against the Flyers.
Witt, who played through a nagging knee injury for a couple of weeks before being placed on injured reserve, has not played since Jan. 8 against Dallas.
"I played with my knee for a while, but I'm not one to complain about injuries. More than anything I'm just kind of shocked," Witt said. "Now I'll just sit and wait."