ALSO ON SLAM!
Thursday, September 30, 1999
Canucks sign Jovanovski, add goaltender
"That was the most important single aspect of this negotiation, locking him up for four years," said general manager Brian Burke. "Ed is an important player for this franchise.
"He's a key on our blue-line. He's an important, intimidating physical presence for our whole team."
The Canucks also signed free agent defenceman Greg Hawgood on Thursday, claimed goaltender Manny Legace off waivers and sent centre Matt Cooke to the Syracuse Crunch of the American Hockey League.
Jovanovski, 23, picked first overall by Florida in the 1994 NHL draft, came to the Canucks last year along with goaltender Kevin Weekes in the Pavel Bure trade. The six-foot-two, 210-pound Windsor, Ont., native had two goals and nine assists in 31 games with Vancouver.
Jovanovski will practise with the Canucks today. It will be up to coach Marc Crawford to decide whether Jovanovski plays in Saturday's season-opening game against the New York Rangers.
While Burke would have preferred to have Jovanovski in camp, he harbours no hard feelings about the contract impasse.
"Sometimes when you go through a contract negotiation . . . there are hard feelings," Burke said. "There are none here.
"I understand Ed did what he felt he had to do and we did what we felt we had to do. It was an amicable, professional negotiation. There was never any mudslinging or stone throwing."
Hawgood, 31, was with the Houston Aeros of the International Hockey League last season. The five-foot-10, 190-pound Edmonton native has played nine NHL seasons with six different teams.
Hawgood reportedly signed a one-year deal worth $450,000 US.
"He's by far our most mobile defenceman and the best decision maker with the puck," Burke said.
The Canuck defence has been weakened by the absence of restricted free agent Adrian Aucoin and Mattias Ohlund (eye injury).
Bryan Allen, picked fourth overall in the 1998 draft, was expected to step into the starting lineup, but had a horrible training camp and is sidelined with a knee injury.
Earlier this year, Burke traded defenceman Bryan McCabe to Chicago so he could draft both Daniel and Henrik Sedin. But the Swedish twins won't play with the Canucks until next year.
Aucoin, who earned $857,670 last year while scoring 23 goals, wants $1.6 million US this season.
Legace was in the Detroit system last year. He played 17 games with the Los Angeles Kings and sported a 2.60 goals-against average.
Weekes is expected to start Saturday with veteran Garth Snow on the injured list with a groin injury.