Cardiff Devils captain Joey Martin has signed for Norwegian side Stavanger Oilers for the 2020/21 season.
In his six years with Devils, the 32-year-old Canadian has been their standout player.
With the Elite League yet to restart due to coronavirus restrictions, Devils have given players permission to approach clubs in other leagues.
“We’re not treating this as a departure from the club and neither is he,” said managing director Todd Kelman.
“This is a year out due to this pandemic. Joey is on a two-year deal and he intends to be back with us for the 2021/22 season.
“I actually wrote to all our guys just over a week ago. Not just the guys we have already signed but the guys we were intending to bring back if the 2020/21 season was starting on time.
“I explained that the Elite League board are working very hard to try and start in December but we are at the mercy of government regulations relating to indoor events with crowds.
“I told all of them that if they want to look around for jobs in other leagues that have confirmed they are going ahead before our league, then we would support them in their decision and would help them with references or finding agents.”
Martin has been named to the Elite League First Team All-Star five times, won the EIHL Forward of the Year three times and the League’s Most Valuable Player Award twice.
He has helped Devils win two League titles, two Challenge Cups and two Play-off Championships during his time in Wales.
“Everyone knows I love this team and this city,” Martin said.
“It has become home for me and I intended to be back for 2020/21 but I need to play and I had to weigh up moving to a league that is set to start in October or waiting it out with the hope of the EIHL starting in December.
“The opportunity to play for a great club like Stavanger for a season really excites me. They are in the Champions League this season, which is going to be a fantastic experience and they are known to treat their players very well and run a first-class organisation, which sounds similar to what I have had in Cardiff.
“I know this will seem like I have given up on being a Devil, but it is not the case. I love Cardiff and I will be back next season.”
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