Blake, Kings agree on a two-year contract

Updated: July 1, 2006, 11:30 PM ET
Associated Press

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."

Rob Blake

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.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press