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Sharks add Rob Blake to blue line

by John Kreiser

Rob Blake, 38, is tops among active NHL defensemen with 223 goals. Highlights
Rob Blake is moving from Southern to Northern California.

Two days after losing free-agent defenseman Brian Campbell to the Chicago Blackhawks, the San Jose Sharks announced the signing of Blake, the leading goal-scorer among active blueliners, to a one-year contract.

Blake, 38, is tops among active NHL defensemen with 223 goals, including nine for the Los Angeles Kings in 2007-08. He also had 22 assists for 31 points, along with 98 penalty minutes. Five of his goals came on the power play.

"I've always admired San Jose, and they have a ton of potential," Blake said during a conference call. "They've been on the verge every year and I’m excited to be there.''

Blake's 702 career points in 1,127 games over 18 seasons with Los Angeles and Colorado are fourth among active defensemen and 22nd in NHL history. His 223 goals are 14th all-time among defensemen.

"Rob is a tremendous competitor that has been one of the top defensemen in this League for many years," Sharks General Manager Doug Wilson said in a statement. "While he has enjoyed mentoring the young guys, great players need the ability to win in order to thrive and his sole purpose here is to focus on winning."

The Simcoe, Ontario, native has appeared in the postseason 11 times during his career and was part of the Stanley Cup-winning 2001 Colorado Avalanche. He has appeared in 125 career NHL postseason games, scoring 24 goals and adding 43 assists for 67 points, along with 152 penalty minutes and a plus-5 rating.

"Rob's skill set and intangibles speak for themselves," new Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "I coached Nicklas Lidstrom for the last three years (as an assistant with Detroit), and Rob is the same age as him. Rob, like Nicklas, has proven to be a leader on a championship-winning team, and any coach would be lucky to have a player of his caliber."

Blake's career includes being named to the 1991 NHL All-Rookie Team, a Norris Trophy in 1998, NHL First All-Star Team honors in 1998, Second All-Star Team honors in 2000, 2001 and 2002 and seven All-Star appearances (1994, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2004).

"I've gotten to play with Rob at several international tournaments and we've built a friendship over the years," Sharks center Joe Thornton said. "He'll fit right into our group and more importantly will help us win. He is extremely talented and can play, and excel, in every situation."

Blake has represented Canada in nine competitions including the Olympic Games (1998, 2002, 2006), the World Championships (1991, 1994, 1997, 1998, 1999) and the World Cup of Hockey (1996). He played four seasons at Bowling Green University before signing with Los Angeles, and was a Hobey Baker Award finalist as a senior in 1990.

The 6-4, 225-pound defenseman was originally selected by Los Angeles in the fourth round (No. 70 overall) of the 1988 NHL Entry Draft. The Avalanche acquired him in a trade in February 2001, and he played with the Avalanche before re-signing with the Kings on July 1, 2006.


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