Right, but there was no 04-05 season due to the lockout and then the salary cap came into effect starting the next season (05-06). As I mentioned, I am only speculating.... based on the fact that the season he played in Detroit was the final season without a cap and he was not back the following season (the first with a cap).... I'm guessing they couldn't afford him. You are right, though, that his season in Detroit was far from the peak of his career, and that may have played a part as well.
Despite some of the posts here, you are correct. Coming out of the lockout, teams were given a $39 million cap going into the 2005/06 season. As a result, the Wings had to buyout some players. They bought out Whitney, Hatcher, and McCarty.
Here is an article talking about it
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