Hockey

Zdeno Chara signs with Bruins

The Boston Bruins' blue-line is suddenly a whole lot bigger after the club signed towering defenceman Zdeno Chara on Saturday.

The Boston Bruins signed defenceman Zdeno Chara to a $37.5-million US, five-year contract Saturday, locking up the league's marquee unrestricted free agent.

The hulking six-foot-nine-inch Slovakia native will be paid $7.5 million per season. Chara set career highs last season with the Ottawa Senators, recording 16 goals and 43 points in 71 games.

"Zdeno is one of the premier defencemen in the National Hockey League and we are thrilled that he will be in a Boston uniform for the next five years," Bruins interim GM Jeff Gorton said in a release.

"He is a big reason why Ottawa allowed the fewest goals in the Eastern Conference last season and that is one area that we were committed to improving on our team.

"We also feel that he will serve as a tremendous example to the number of young defencemen we have on our roster."

Chara, 29, is entering his ninth NHL season. He spent parts of four seasons with the New York Islanders after they selected him with the 56th overall pick of the 1996 NHL Entry Draft.

Chara was traded to Ottawa with Bill Muckalt and New York's 2001 first-round draft pick (Jason Spezza, second overall) for Alexei Yashin on June 23, 2001.

Chara was named a first team NHL all-star and a Norris Trophy finalist in 2003-04 and was a second team all-star and finished fourth in the Norris Trophy balloting in 2005-06.

Over his career, Chara has registered 57 goals and 118 assists for 175 points and 901 penalty minutes in 530 regular season games.

Sens nab future goalie

The Senators brought Dominik Hasek's time in Ottawa to an end Saturday, signing former Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Martin Gerber to a three-year, $11.1 million contract.

Gerber's arrival in Ottawa, coupled with Ray Emery's emergence as a solid goaltender, means the Senators have no need for Hasek, who was told Saturday he would not be retained by the team.

Senators general manager John Muckler said the 40-year-old netminder was upset about the decision.

''Sure, he's disappointed,'' Muckler said in a conference call. ''He was looking forward to coming back. We thought about it a long time. It wouldn't be fair to Gerber to bring him in as maybe the third goaltender.

Hasek, who made $1.5 million last season, was brought in to help Ottawa contend for the Stanley Cup.

But the five-time Vezina Trophy winner was injured during the Olympics, and didn't return to the Senators for the rest of the season. That left Emery to backstop the Sens, and while he showed flashes of brilliance, it wasn't enough to get Ottawa past the second round.

Hasek finished with a 28-10-4 record, a 2.05 goals-against average and .925 save percentage in 43 games with Ottawa. His five shutouts were tied for fourth-most in the league.

Muckler believes Gerber will be a stabilizing force in goal.

''We thought he was the best goalie available,'' said Muckler. ''I think he's gonna do a very good job for us. I know he played very well against us. He was the go-to guy all season long. We're happy to have him.''

The Senators also wasted little time replacing departed free agents Chara and Brian Pothier, signing ex-Los Angeles Kings blue-liner Joe Corvo to an $10.5-million, four-year contract.

Corvo had 14 goals and 26 assists in 81 games with the Kings this season.

''He's a very good offensive player,'' said Muckler. ''He's a power-play good type of player, good skater, good offensive guy. He gives us more mobility on the blue line.''

Muckler insisted he wasn't bitter at Chara for spurning the Sens.

''Chara will be a good hockey player for them,'' said Muckler, who added he isn't done with the free-agent market. ''7.5 (million dollars per season) was certainly more than we could carry."