Senators re-sign Chara to two-year, $9.5-million US deal
OTTAWA (CP) - The Ottawa Senators re-signed star defenceman Zdeno
Chara to a two-year, $9.5-million US contract Tuesday, avoiding
"He's a premier defenceman," GM John Muckler said in announcing the
deal. Chara, who was paid $2.4 million last season, will make $4.6
million in 2004-05 and $4.9 million in 2005-06. "It was a fair deal
for both sides," said Chara's Boston-based agent Matt Keator. "I see
this as a bridge to a longer-term deal."
An arbitration hearing had been scheduled for Wednesday. Last week,
the Senators reached a two-year contract agreement with Chris
Phillips hours before his scheduled hearing.
"It's healthy for the organization," Muckler told
reporters. "Arbitration is not the nicest thing to go through.
"It's nice to solve all our problems within the family and that's
what we did."
Chara, a six-foot-nine Slovak blue-liner, was runner-up to the New
Jersey Devils' Scott Niedermayer for the Norris Trophy last season
after recording career highs in goals (16) and points (41) in 79
games last season. His plus-33 rating was third-best in the NHL.
The 260-pound hulk is an intimidating roadblock to opposing forwards
and also is a fixture on Ottawa's power play.
"Chara, Phillips and (Wade) Redden are the core of our defence and we
think they're as good as any three in the league," said Muckler. "All
three of them can get better and, for us to be successful, they have
to get better."
Since joining the Senators for the 2001-2002 season, Chara has a
league-best plus-92 rating. He was acquired from the New York
Islanders on June 23, 2001, with Bill Muckalt and the second overall
draft pick (Jason Spezza) for Alexei Yashin. He was the Islanders'
third-round pick, 56th overall, in the 1996 entry draft.
Chara will be in Slovakia's lineup for the World Cup of Hockey, Aug.
The deal came together late Monday, said Muckler.
"He was almost on the airplane (to Toronto) for arbitration," he
said. "He'll be happy he didn't have to pay for the ticket."
The arbitration process results in one-year contracts and many
players opt for the security of multiyear deals and re-sign before
"One thing that has really helped us is the type of team we have,"
said Muckler. "It shows the players want to be part of the
organization and we're very proud of the fact that's the way it is.
"In the two years I've been here, the co-operation we've received
from the players is tremendous and it seems to be continuing this
Forward Martin Havlat remains the most prominent Ottawa player yet to
be re-signed, and Muckler said "he'll be the next one we have to
On the likelihood of a labour disruption when the collective
bargaining agreement between the league and the players' association
expires Sept. 15, Muckler said he remains unsure of what will happen.