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Chara and Savard ready to win

by Staff Writer / Boston Bruins
By Jeremy Lemoine

BOSTON - The Boston Bruins did not waste any time when free agency opened on Saturday afternoon. Bruins Interim General Manager Jeff Gorton vowed to be aggressive the moment it began and he did not disappoint when he landed two of the top unrestricted free agents in defenseman Zdeno Chara and center Marc Savard.

Gorton signed Chara to the Bruins on a five-year deal worth $37.5 million. The contract also included a no-trade clause for the massive defenseman, who stands 6-feet, 9-inches tall. Chara finished the 2005-06 season with career season highs in goals with 16, and in points with 43.

Gorton also tied up Savard on a four-year deal with the Black ‘n Gold worth $20 million. Savard ranked ninth in NHL scoring last season with 28-69=97 totals with the Atlanta Thrashers.

The Bruins Interim General Manager felt that if he could get a top free agent to sign with the Bruins, it would make it easier to sign other players he was pursuing. Leading up to Saturday, most experts around the league figured Chara to be the most coveted unrestricted free agent.

“I have felt all along that if we could get (Zdeno) Chara to sign, some other things would fall into place and players would realize that the Bruins are serious about winning,” said Gorton.

With Chara, the Bruins put everything possible into signing the former Ottawa defenseman. Gorton, along with Director of Player Development, Don Sweeney, Bruins Head Coach Dave Lewis, and former Bruin Cam Neely all spoke with Chara to convince him to play for the Bruins.

Chara issued a statement through his agent, Matt Keator, saying he was impressed how professional and straightforward the organization was in pursuing him. Chara also said he is excited about leading the team with his drive, work ethic, dedication, and discipline.

Gorton was right when he thought other players would sign in Boston after Chara committed. Moments after Chara agreed to the five-year deal, Savard approved of the four-year pact that Gorton offered him.

“When Chara signed, it helped out a lot for sure,” said the crafty centerman. “But before he signed, I was excited about the Boston situation. I had offers from other teams, but I think when he signed it really helped make my decision easier.”

Savard, who turns 29 on July 17, will enter his ninth NHL season with the Bruins.

“I want to start winning,” admitted Savard. “I’m getting older in my career now and winning is important to me, so I am excited about Boston.

“Boston has some great forwards and I am excited to have the chance to play with them. Growing up, I liked the Bruins a little bit as well, so that helps.”
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