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Seabrook, Blackhawks close to extension

by Brian Hedger
CHICAGO -- Brent Seabrook is very close to joining the rest of the Chicago Blackhawks "core group" that's signed long term with the defending Stanley Cup champions.
A deal has not been finalized, but likely will be in the very near future according to Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman -- who met with reporters during the team's practice Saturday.
A report by TSN said a deal was already reached for five years and just less than $30 million, but Bowman didn't say it was finalized and declined to get into specifics about salary or the term negotiated.
"We're getting close," Bowman said. "It's certainly moved along a lot faster in the last week or so. We've been working on it for a long time. These deals take awhile to get done sometimes. There was a lot of back and forth, but he's a guy we've said from the very beginning is a big part of the group we have here."
The 25-year-old Seabrook has played all 61 games this season -- scoring 4 goals, 33 points and logging a plus-2 rating while skating an average of 24:25 per game. He's in his sixth NHL season, after the Blackhawks selected him 14th overall in the 2003 Entry Draft.
Seabrook has 34 career goals, 177 points and a plus-57 rating over 453 games. He also played big roles in both the Hawks' Cup run and Team Canada's gold medal victory in the 2010 Winter Olympics.
"We believe he's been instrumental in getting to the point we're at and he's going to be instrumental in keeping us at this level," Bowman said. "He's at a good young age, just really entering the prime of his career and he's been a great player. I think he's going to get even better."
Seabrook, scheduled to become a restricted free agent if a new deal isn't reached, is just relieved the situation appears close to closure.
"I've tried definitely just putting it out of my mind, but it's something that I have thought about and it's one of those things that I'm going to be very happy when it's over," he said. "I don't think I was ever worried about it. I thought about it a lot and thought of different scenarios and stuff like that, but if they wanted to sign me I figured they would. We'll have to see."
All signs are pointing toward that happening quickly, which is news that has to make Chicago coach Joel Quenneville happy. Seabrook has struggled a little more at times this season than expected, but Quenneville knows how important it is to keep the talented, tough two-way defenseman around.
"He's a big part of the team and I think you've got to appreciate what he brings to us," Quenneville said. "He's got great leadership qualities. He plays quality minutes -- power-play, penalty killing, matchup minutes. He's a physical presence back there and (along with Duncan Keith) was really instrumental in us winning the Cup. He's still doing a lot of good things for us right now and is part of that mix that would be nice to have here for a long time."
Likewise, Seabrook would like to stay in the Windy City.

"It's the only city I've played in, and the only team I've played for in the NHL," Seabrook said. "It's one of those things where I've grown up with this group and I think I've accomplished a lot of over the past six years. I definitely can accomplish a lot (more) in the future."

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