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Cowan tempted by free agency but signs two-year deal with Canucks @NHLdotcom

VANCOUVER (CP) - Jeff Cowan admits he was tempted by the thought of free agency but in the end decided to sign a two-year contract extension with the Vancouver Canucks.

"There's always the temptation there," Cowan said during a telephone conference call Thursday. "Every time that thought crept in, it wasn't for very long. Vancouver was the place I wanted to be."

While the Canucks wouldn't release figures, Cowan said it was a "good guess" that he had agreed to a deal in the US$700,000-a-year range. He earned US$532,000 last year..

"We wanted at least a two-year deal," said Cowan. "We had tried to get a three-year deal.

"The two-year was the way it panned out."

Cowan, 30, played 42 for the Canucks last season after being claimed off NHL waivers from the Los Angeles Kings on Dec. 30. He had seven goals, three assists and 93 penalty minutes with Vancouver.

The Toronto native, known mostly for his gritty, physical play, went on a scoring streak that saw him net six goals in four early March games. After one goal, a fan threw a bra on the ice and Cowan earned the nickname "The Bra-barian."

Cowan added two more goals during 10 playoff games, including an overtime winner in Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinal against the Anaheim Ducks.

"I got a taste of the playoffs which was really nice," he said.

Returning to play for Alain Vigneault, the NHL's coach of the year, was another factor in Cowan's decision.

"I really respect his coaching style and the way he coaches," said Cowan. "For a player like myself, it really helps my game when you have a coach that isn't afraid to give you an opportunity if you are playing well and let you play with some other players who have more skills."

In seven NHL seasons, the six-foot-two, 205-pound Cowan has played for Calgary, Atlanta and Los Angeles. In 367 career games, he has 47 goals, 33 assists and 585 penalty minutes.

Cowan was originally signed as a free agent by the Calgary Flames on Oct. 2, 1995.

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