BOSTON - Centre Marc Savard passed on a chance to become a free agent next summer for an opportunity to finish his career with the Boston Bruins.
The team's leading scorer each of the past three seasons signed a seven-year contract extension, beginning next season, worth slightly more than US$28 million. The club announced the deal on Tuesday.
Savard said Wednesday the contract allows him to stay with a contending team in a city that loves sports.
"I think I stated earlier in some articles that I wanted to stay in Boston for the rest of my career and it looks like I'm going to have that chance," Savard said at a news conference. "So I'm happy about that. Over the last few years, I've watched this town grow back into a hockey town. And, hopefully, our goal as a team and as a staff comes true, that we can bring a (Stanley) Cup back to Boston."
The Bruins finished first in the Eastern Conference last season and won a playoff series for the first time in 10 years, sweeping the Montreal Canadiens in four games, before losing in the second round to the Carolina Hurricanes.
Going into Wednesday night's game against the Tampa Bay Lightning, Savard had four goals and six assists in 11 games. He missed 15 games with a broken foot before returning. Last season, he led the Bruins with 25 goals and 63 assists.
Savard signed a four-year, US$20-million contract as a free agent in the summer of 2006 after playing for the Atlanta Thrashers. He previously played for the New York Rangers and Calgary Flames. None of those cities has had the recent success among its pro sports franchises as the Boston area.
"With all the incredible sports teams they have here and the fans' knowledge about all the events, it's incredible," Savard said. "Since day one, I look back at the playoffs and to see what could be really excites me, too, especially when we play the Canadiens in the playoffs and the way fans react. It's something that we'd like to try to finish here."
Savard came to Boston with the reputation as a playmaker but has become more than that with the Bruins.
"His competitive nature has always been there, but I see it maturing, I see it growing and it's really consistent and compatible with the identity of the team," Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said. "The faceoffs and penalty killing, the shooting the puck more is another thing. I feel his game is rounding into a really solid, tremendous skill package with these other intangible things. And you've seen it year to year and it's been impressive."
Savard said he had been urging Chiarelli to reach an agreement. The contract is worth about $14 million over the first two years, with another $14 million for the final five years.
He'll be 39 in the contract's final year.
"When I signed a seven-year deal, obviously it was to play the whole seven years," Savard said. "So that's how I look at it right now and I think that's what I'm going to be true to right now. I really haven't thought about anything else."
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