Avalanche sign Kariya, Selanne to one-year dealsPosted: Thursday July 03, 2003 12:54 PM
Updated: Thursday July 03, 2003 7:33 PM
The unrestricted free agents joined the Avalanche in what was essentially a package deal, the players and Avalanche general manager Pierre Lacroix said.
In five years together in Anaheim, Selanne and Kariya were teammates and prolific scorers for the Mighty Ducks. Selanne was traded to San Jose in March 2001.
Kariya, who played with the Mighty Ducks last season, agreed to a $1.2 million contract, according to a source within the NHL who spoke Thursday to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
Selanne, who declined his option at $6.5 million with the Sharks, agreed to a $5.8 million contract with Colorado, the source said.
Kariya's relatively low contract figure is less than the league average, allowing him to become an unrestricted free agent again after next season. That price also helped both Selanne and Kariya fit into the Avalanche's salary structure.
Both players said they came to Colorado for the opportunity to win a Stanley Cup.
"When we both became free agents, we made a hockey decision," Kariya said at a news conference. "We both said, 'Forget about the money, where's the place we want to play?' And Colorado jumped out at both of us immediately. So we made things work monetarily.
Selanne, who spoke via a satellite link from his native Finland, agreed.
"It was automatic that we wanted to play together somewhere," Selanne said. "Like Paul said, the first choice was Colorado right away. We were hoping the chance was available. This organization has a history of winning the Stanley Cup. That's why this is so thrilling."
Lacroix said he was shocked when agent Don Baizley called to propose the package signing.
"Over the last 36 hours, these two athletes expressed their strong desire to come to Denver and play for the Avalanche," Lacroix said. "Obviously, we were stunned.
"We were able to do all of this without changing any of the [salary] structure that we have for the coming season."
The retirement of goaltender Patrick Roy and his $8.5 million salary gave the Avalanche some room to sign the two free agents.
But Lacroix chuckled when it was suggested that Roy might now decide to un-retire.
"Patrick made his decision for personal reasons," Lacroix said. "I don't expect in any shape or form that Patrick will change his mind."
Lacroix was the beneficiary of a similar package arrangement two years ago when Roy, Sakic and Blake all re-signed in unison.
Kariya, a left wing, had six goals and six assists over 21 games this postseason, helping lead the Mighty Ducks to the NHL finals, where they lost to New Jersey in seven games.
The seven-time All-Star has played his entire career in Anaheim, where he was a team leader. He became an unrestricted free agent Monday night when the Ducks declined to make him a qualifying offer, refusing to match the $10 million he made last season.
Kariya played in all 82 games for the second consecutive year, and had 25 goals and 56 points. He holds a string of team records, including most career goals (300) and assists (369).
Selanne, a right wing, had 28 goals and 64 points last season, leading the team in both categories while improving his two-way game and physical play. He was named the team's most valuable player.
In declining his option, Selanne believed he could make more money on the free-agent market.
He was one of the most attractive scorers available this summer, although it was unlikely he could get a lucrative long-term deal with the expiration of the NHL's collective bargaining agreement looming in September 2004.