<
>

Foote's three-year deal reportedly worth $13.8 million

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Adam Foote, a defensive cornerstone of two
Stanley Cup championship teams in Colorado, signed a three-year
contract with the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday.

The 34-year-old Foote, the highest-profile player to sign with
the 5-year-old Blue Jackets, was lured to Columbus by the promise
that general manager Doug MacLean would improve the team.
"He said they'd do what they had to do to win," Foote said of
MacLean. "It made me smile."
Columbus failed to reach the playoffs in its first four NHL
seasons.
Canadian television network TSN reported that Foote signed a
three-year, $13.5 million contract Monday night. The team declined
to confirm details of the contract.
The Blue Jackets have never made the playoffs, in large part
because of a lack of dependable blue-liners. Columbus gave up 263
goals -- 50 more than it scored -- during the 2003-2004 season.
"This is definitely a big step," Columbus coach Gerard Gallant
said. "We knew the team would get better, but to get a guy like
Adam Foote, that's huge for our hockey club. He will push our
players hard every night."
The offense is anchored by youngsters Rick Nash and Nikolai
Zherdev. Nash tied for the NHL lead in goals with 41 during the
last season before the lockout, while Zherdev joined the team in
December 2003 and showed a wealth of talent.
Monday was the first day NHL teams were allowed to pursue
unrestricted free agents under the collective bargaining agreement
that ended the lockout on July 22. The labor fight wiped out the
entire 2004-05 season.
Foote turned down a 4-year, $12 million offer from Colorado, the
franchise with which he spent his entire 13-year career. He played
four years with the team when it was located in Quebec and won
Stanley Cup championships in 1996 and 2001 in Colorado.
The physical and sturdy defenseman is coming off two of his most
productive seasons. Foote led his position with an average of 35.5
shifts per game in 2003-2004. He had career highs with 11 goals, 31
points, and a plus-30 rating in the previous season.
"He is the total package," MacLean said. "He is tremendously
competitive, tough, smart, moves the puck very well and is the
definition of the word winner. He is a terrific addition to our
organization and will be a key component to our continued evolution
as a franchise."
No Blue Jackets players had a plus rating during the 2003-2004
season. Foote was a plus-5 in four games against Columbus that
year. He has registered 20 or more points five times, including in
four of the past six seasons.
The 6-foot-2, 220-pounder has also been a key figure for Canada
in international competition the past decade. He won a gold medal
at the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City. Foote and Nash have been
selected to attend the Canadian orientation camp later this month
in preparation for the 2006 Olympics in Turin.
Foote will likely anchor the Blue Jackets' top defensive
pairing. Columbus already has Rostislav Klesla, Luke Richardson and
Duvie Westcott, along with young prospect Aaron Johnson on the blue
line.