Canadiens acquire Robert Lang from Blackhawks
The Montreal Canadiens added offensive punch to their lineup Friday with the acquisition of veteran playmaking centre Robert Lang, ending their effort to sign Mats Sundin.
Lang was traded to Montreal by the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for a second-round draft pick in the 2010 NHL draft.
The Canadiens also re-signed defenceman Patrice Brisebois to a one-year deal worth $750,000 US, with a chance to earn another $750,000 in bonuses.
Montreal general manager Bob Gainey said the acquisition of Lang, 37, means that the team's pursuit of coveted free agent forward Sundin is over.
"There was no indication to us that we would see Mats Sundin with our team," said Gainey, who met with the Swedish star on the weekend. "I didn't have a sense that Sundin wanted to start the season or come to training camp and we wanted a team ready for training camp."
Gainey had previously indicated he had a backup plan if the former Maple Leafs captain did not join the Canadiens, which turned out to be Friday's deal with the Hawks.
NHL salary cap exceeded
Chicago had exceeded the league's salary cap of $56.7 million and was looking to move a player.
"I knew (Chicago GM) Dale Tallon had to do something," Lang said from his home in Chicago. "If you play with the numbers in your mind, you figure you could be one of the guys (who gets traded).
"You never want to get traded or have to move your family, but I think it's going to be a great situation. It's a great hockey town."
The native of the Czech Republic is entering the final year of a two-year contract that will pay him $4 million US this season.
In 76 games with the Blackhawks last season, Lang scored 21 goals and added 33 assists with a rating of plus-9.
The centreman has notched at least 50 points in eight consecutive seasons.
In 14 seasons with the Los Angeles Kings, Boston Bruins, Pittsburgh Penguins, Washington Capitals, Detroit Red Wings and the Blackhawks, Lang has 234 goals and 401 assists in 835 regular season games.
In Montreal, he'll rejoin Alexei Kovalev, who centred a line with him in Pittsburgh during the late 1990s.
"As for playing with Alex, we had a great time in Pittsburgh playing together," said Lang. "Hopefully, we can revisit the chemistry we had. It should be great."
Lang, the 133rd overall selection in the 1990 NHL draft, has also has added 18 goals and 27 assists in 87 playoff games.
He has also captured three Olympic medals with the Czech Republic. Lang captured gold at the 1998 Nagano Games and won bronze in Albertville in 1992 and Torino in 2006.
Brisebois waited for Canadiens
Brisebois, 37, had three goals and eight assists in 43 games last season, his 17th in the NHL.
Gainey asked the Montreal native to wait before signing his contract until a decision was made on Sundin and the team's salary cap space was settled.
"It's the team's 100th year and I really wanted to be part of that," said Brisebois, who added he wasn't interested in signing with any other team than the Canadiens. "I told my agent Don Meehan, `Try to sign with Montreal.'
"He never talked to any other teams."
Brisebois has totalled 93 goals and 309 assists in 947 career regular season games.
He is a possibility to earn some power play minutes on the right point with the departure of Mark Streit, but he remains the team's seventh defenceman.
"It's Carbo's [head coach Guy Carbonneau's] decision, but the season is long and there are injuries, so you never know what will happen," said Brisebois.
A second-round selection by the Canadiens in 1989, Brisebois is the only player now with Montreal who was on the team's roster during its 1992-93 Stanley Cup-winning season.
With files from the Canadian Press