Flames ship Savard to Thrashers

The Calgary Flames have finally granted Marc Savard his wish.

After a year-long, public dispute with the Flames, Savard will get a chance to start anew after being dealt to the Atlanta Thrashers on Friday night in exchange for unsigned Russian draft pick Ruslan Zainullin.

The trade finally brings to an end a long and bitter feud between Savard and head coach Greg Gilbert.

The 25-year-old native of Ottawa fell out of favour with the club after picking up an injury early last season. He was replaced on the Flames' top line by Craig Conroy and failed to get his job back when he returned after Conroy clicked with Jarome Iginla.

Over the ensuing months, both Gilbert and Savard became embattled in war of words in the media, made worse when Savard asked for a trade.

The Flames didn't comply with the request, forcing Savard to reiterate his trade demand over the summer. Gilbert became angered with when he showed up to camp this year out of shape.

This hardly endeared him to Gilbert, who routinely benched the forward during the current season. Savard was a healthy scratch for six of the Flames' last eight games.

Despite Savard's tumultuous history with management, Atlanta general manager Don Waddell thought he should take a chance on the forward.

"We've all seen it before when a guy starts off the season on the wrong foot and he never gets it going," he said. "Marc is a player we are very familiar with.

"He's a competitive player and an offensive player. He will fit right into our top six forwards and our top two centremen."

Savard spent four seasons in Calgary, his best campaign coming two years ago when he racked up 65 points.

A draft pick of the New York Rangers (91st overall) in the 1995 NHL Entry Draft, Savard has one goal and two assists in ten games for the Flames this year.

The Tampa Bay Lightning originally selected Zainullin in the second round, 34th overall in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft.

He was traded to the Phoenix Coyotes for the rights to Nikolai Khabibulin in a multi-player deal and then landed in Atlanta along with Kirill Safronov in exchange for Darcy Hordichuk and draft picks.

Zainullin played in the 2002 world junior championship for Russia's silver-medal winning team.