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Saturday, July 1, 2006
Bruins sign sought-after free agents Chara, Savard

Associated Press

BOSTON -- The Boston Bruins signed two of the top free agents on the market Saturday, inking 6-foot-9 defenseman Zdeno Chara and center Marc Savard.

Chara got a five-year deal worth $37.5 million dollars, and there is also a no-trade clause in the contract. Savard left Atlanta to sign a four-year deal worth $20 million with Boston.

"We were really aggressive out of the gate," interim general manager Jeff Gorton said on a conference call. "It made it much easier to sign Savard after Chara signed with us. He could see how serious we were about winning."

Chara, the tallest player in the NHL, had a career best 43 points last season for Ottawa, with 16 goals and 27 assists in 71 games. He spent the last four seasons with the Senators, and played for Farjestads of Sweden during the lockout season.

Chara, who also played four seasons with the New York Islanders, has 57 goals, 118 assists and 901 penalty minutes in his NHL career.

"I was very impressed with how professional and straightforward Boston was in pursuing me," Chara said in a statement released through his agent. "I want to lead this team by setting a good example with my work ethic, drive, dedication and discipline."

Savard had career-high totals of 28 goals and 69 assists in 82 games for the Atlanta Thrashers last season.

"Marc is one of the top playmaking centers in the game today," Gorton said. "He will fit in well with the skill players we have on our team and the direction in which we are headed."

Savard has 133 goals and 268 assists in an eight-year career that includes stints with the Calgary Flames and the New York Rangers, who drafted him in the fourth round in 1995.

The Bruins are overhauling their entire organization after finishing out of the playoffs and in last place in the Northeast Division last season with a 29-37-16 record for 74 points.

The team fired general manager Mike O'Connell late last season and hired Ottawa assistant GM Peter Chiarelli to replace him last month. One of Chiarelli's first moves was to fire coach Mike Sullivan and replace him with former Detroit Red Wings coach Dave Lewis.

Per the agreement between Boston and Ottawa, Chiarelli -- who does not officially take over the Bruins until July 15 -- wasn't allowed to advise Boston about any of the Senators free agents.

The Bruins have also been dumping aging players, buying out the contracts of left wing Shawn McEachern and center Travis Green on Friday.

"We're a much better team today than we were yesterday, that's for sure," Gorton said.