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Bruins general manager believes it's only '50-50' Turco will join team

TORONTO - The Boston Bruins aren't overly optimistic Marty Turco will be around for the stretch drive.

One day after signing the veteran goaltender to a free-agent contract, general manager Peter Chiarelli pegged the odds of Turco clearing waivers and joining his injury-plagued crease at just "50-50."

"The fact a goalie like that is available after the trade deadline, we're fortunate to a certain degree," Chiarelli said Tuesday before the Bruins played the Maple Leafs. "But there are other teams that need some goaltending help also. I'd say it's 50-50 that he'll clear waivers."

Teams have until 12 p.m. ET Wednesday to put a claim in on Turco. On Monday night, he signed a one-year contract with Boston for a pro-rated salary of US$600,000 and had to be placed on the waiver wire because he had only played in Europe this season.

It's a low-risk rental for the Bruins—or any team that claims him—because the 36-year-old will only be on the roster for a month. Turco is unavailable to participate in the playoffs because he was signed after the Feb. 27 trade deadline.

Prior to signing with Boston, Turco had been playing for EC Red Bull Salzburg in Austria. He also suited up for Canada's entry at the Spengler Cup in December.

"He's committed to continuing to play in the (NHL)," said Chiarelli. "So the motivation will be there. I spoke with the manager of Salzburg and he said he was in good condition and had some good games—he did quite well."

Turco is a 10-year NHL veteran who spent last season as a backup with the Chicago Blackhawks. He went unsigned over the summer and eventually sought work in Europe.

The Bruins found themselves in a predicament after backup Tuukka Rask suffered a lower abdomen/groin strain over the weekend that will keep him out four to six weeks. The organization's third goalie, Anton Khudobin, is also on the sidelines with a wrist injury.

Ideally, Boston would like to give Turco at least four or five starts before the end of the season.

"He'll give us the experience and the type of backup goaltender that we need here going down the stretch," said coach Claude Julien.

The organization is wary of giving Tim Thomas too much work.

Chiarelli and Julien believe the ideal number of regular-season appearances for the 37-year-old is 55, but he's on pace to surpass that after playing his 46th game against the Leafs on Tuesday. The Bruins have 17 games to go before the start of the playoffs.

"The history shows it's important to spell him," said Chiarelli. "In an ideal situation you want him rested for the playoffs and that's what we're trying to do."

With Boston still fighting for position in the Eastern Conference, the injuries to Rask and Khudobin come at a tough time.

"It's just kind of an imperfect storm," said Chiarelli. "But every team has their injuries and deals with them."

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