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Habs ink free agent forward Jeff Halpern

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens
MONTREAL -- Montreal Canadiens general manager Pierre Gauthier announced Tuesday the signing of free agent forward Jeff Halpern to a one-year contract (2010-11). As per club policy, financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Halpern, 34, split the 2009-10 season between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Los Angeles Kings, playing a combined total of 71 games and recording 19 points (9 goals, 10 assists). He also amassed 39 penalty minutes while averaging 14:30 of ice time. Halpern fired 71 shots on goal, scored two powerplay markers and tallied one game-winner.

“As soon as Montreal showed interest, I was pretty excited. To be able to put on that jersey and play in that city for that team is a tremendous honor,” said Halpern after signing his new deal on Tuesday. “I’ve played in the NHL for a long time, but I’m probably more excited for this than I’ve been at any point in my career. It’s a special feeling to join this organization.

The 6-foot, 203-pound center completed his 10th NHL season in 2009-10. The Kings acquired him from Tampa Bay at the NHL trade deadline on March 3, 2010, in return for centre Teddy Purcell and a third round pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.

Since he first joined the NHL in 1999-00, Halpern has amassed 316 points (131 goals, 185 assists) in 720 regular season games with Washington, Dallas, Tampa Bay and Los Angeles. In that time, he has racked up 554 penalty minutes, 28 powerplay goals and nine shorthanded markers. He has also added 12 points (6 goals, 6 assists) and 27 penalty minutes in 30 career playoff match-ups.

“I’ve played in some of the most southern cities with great weather and great organizations, but I’m a bit of a hockey nerd,” admitted Halpern. “I love being around it and I love when people are talking hockey and they’re kind of breathing the sport so the chance to play in that environment is a special thing for me.”

A native of Potomac, Maryland, Halpern is a graduate of Princeton University in the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference. In four seasons with the Tigers, he registered a total of 142 points (60 goals, 82 assists). He led the league in goal scoring during the 1997-98 and the 1998-99 seasons. He was named to the ECAC Second All-Star Team both years.

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