Reuters - Mon, 02 Aug 21:06:00 2010
The Chicago Blackhawks could not afford Stanley Cup winning netminder Antti Niemi and allowed the Finn to walk away before signing veteran Marty Turco as a replacement.
With their backs up against the league's $59.4 million (£37.4m) salary cap wall, the Blackhawks decided they could not keep Niemi after an arbitration hearing at the weekend awarded him a $2.75m (£1.7m) salary for next season.
Niemi had been a bargain basement find for the Blackhawks earning $826,875 (£521,000) last season as Chicago claimed their first Stanley Cup since 1961.
The Finnish rookie, who went 16-6 with two shutouts during the play-offs, now becomes an unrestricted free agent.
The Blackhawks instead have turned to Turco, a three-time all-star who had spent his entire NHL career in Dallas.
Terms of the contract were not announced but according to local media reports, Turco agreed to a one-year deal worth between $1m (£629,000) and $1.5m (£944,000).
"Joining the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks is an unbelievable opportunity for me both professionally and personally," said Turco.
"The Blackhawks are a first-class organisation in a world-class city and at this point in my career I am excited to be a part of a team that will give me such a good chance to win the Stanley Cup."
Turco, was 22-20-11 last season but recorded at least 30 wins in six consecutive seasons from 2002 to 2009.
In 509 career games the 34-year-old Canadian sits sixth among active netminders with 262 wins, including 40 shutouts.
A member of Canada's 2006 Olympic team, Turco is the Stars' franchise leader in wins, shutouts and games.