Corson, Roberts join Leafs

After watching his team wilt against the tougher New Jersey Devils in the playoffs this past spring, Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Pat Quinn said he wanted to add grit and leadership to the line-up.

He got both Tuesday, signing free-agent forwards Gary Roberts and Shayne Corson to multi-year contracts.

Corson, 33, a 14-year-NHL veteran who earned $2.25 million US last season, turned down an offer from the Montreal Canadiens to join the Leafs.

He scored only eight goals in 70 games, but was widely credited for leading an injury-decimated team to the brink of the playoffs.

In 942 career games, Corson has tallied 241 goals, 609 points and almost 2000 penalty minutes. He has also registered 77 points in 103 playoff games.

The Leafs had long been rumoured to be interested in Corson, whose brother-in-law Darcy Tucker plays for the team.

Roberts, 34, scored 23 goals and added 30 assists in 69 games with the Carolina Hurricanes last season. He has 314 goals and 335 assists in 792 NHL games.

Known for his hard-charging style, Roberts was forced into temporary retirement because of a neck injury, missing the 1996-97.

Roberts said it was a hard decision to leave the Hurricanes, who gave him a second chance after the injury.

"My career was over three years ago and I had the opportunity to play in Carolina where they treated me with nothing but respect," Roberts told a news conference Tuesday.

"I owe the Carolina Hurricanes a lot for how they took care of me for three years. It was a tough decision for me to leave there because of how good they were."

"We're excited about this opportunity and coming back to a hockey market."

Both Roberts and Corson have ties to the area. Roberts is from Toronto while Corson hails from Barrie, Ont., about an hour's drive north.

"It's been a dream of mine for a long time (to play for Toronto)," said Corson.

"I'm really excited about it and hopefully Gary and I can help the Toronto Maple Leafs win the Stanley Cup."

According to local reports, Toronto offered both players three-year contracts with Roberts' deal worth a total of $7.5 million US.