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Blake, Kings agree on a two-year contract

LOS ANGELES -- The Kings are bringing back defenseman Rob Blake for a second stint, agreeing to terms on a two-year contract
with the unrestricted free agent on Saturday.

"Rob Blake is a special player and more importantly a special
person," general manager Dean Lombardi said. "He belongs in a
Kings uniform."

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The Kings also signed left wing Scott Thornton to a two-year
contract on the first day of the free-agent period. He had 21
points last season for the San Jose Sharks, who declined their
contract option on the 35-year-old veteran.

The Kings shed unrestricted free agent right winger Mark Parrish, who signed a multiyear deal with the Minnesota Wild, and
defenseman Joe Corvo, who got a $10.5 million, four-year contract
from the Ottawa Senators.

Los Angeles didn't waste any time in pursuing Blake, with an
early morning phone call to him.

"There are a lot of things that make Rob attractive to us,"
Lombardi said in a conference call. "This is a player I've always
admired. He totally understands now what a winner is. This guy is
the whole package."

Blake, 36, became the highest scoring defenseman in Kings
history during a 12-season stint that ended with his trade to
Colorado in 2001.

Last season, he had 14 goals, 37 points and 94 penalty minutes
in 81 regular-season games for the Avalanche. In nine playoff
games, he had three goals and one assist.

Blake helped the Avalanche win the Stanley Cup in 2001, and made
three All-Star appearances with them.

"I want to thank the Avalanche for everything," he said on the
conference call. "I learned a lot about winning and things that
are going to help me throughout my career."

With the Kings, Blake was a four-time All-Star who helped the
team to the 1993 Stanley Cup finals, and won the Norris Trophy as
the NHL's top defenseman in 1998. He was the team's captain from
1996-2001 and one of its most popular players.

Blake was a target for fan hostility whenever he returned to
play at Staples Center, but he hopes all will be forgiven.

"I hope it's a warm reception," he said. "I think things will
be put behind us."

Blake was comfortable with the length of his new contract,
saying, "I know I can commit myself to two years. I want to see
how I'm playing. It's tough when you get up a little bit in age."

The Kings drafted Blake in 1988. He maintained an offseason home
in Manhattan Beach, even after being traded with Steven Reinprecht
for Adam Deadmarsh, Aaron Miller, Jared Aulin and a first-round
draft pick.

"Anytime you start with a franchise, your ultimate goal is to
win the Stanley Cup," Blake said. "Part of the decision coming
back was to bring that attitude and carry that over to Los
Angeles."

Family considerations involving his wife and two young children
also led Blake back to his beginnings.

"It was a logical decision and an easy decision," he said.