SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) -Defenseman Craig Rivet re-signed with the San Jose Sharks on Friday, agreeing to a four-year deal with the club that acquired him late in the regular season.
Rivet spent his entire career with the Montreal Canadiens before the Sharks picked him up for the playoff run Feb. 25. After that short but satisfying stint in teal, Rivet was thrilled to return.
"The growth of this team is something that caught my eye," Rivet said in a phone interview from Canada. "It's a team that's focusing on winning a Stanley Cup, and that's the reason for signing in San Jose. The fans here - I was here for about 25 games, and I think we sold out almost all of them. The fan base, the lifestyle down in San Jose, you can't beat it."
The 11-year veteran had one goal, seven assists and a plus-eight rating in 17 regular-season games for the Sharks while providing a valuable veteran influence on the club's young defensemen. Rivet, who confirmed his new contract was worth approximately $14 million, also shined in the playoffs with five points in 11 games.
Rivet re-signed on the same day San Jose traded goalie Vesa Toskala and forward Mark Bell to the Toronto Maple Leafs for three draft picks, a deal that cleared about $4 million in salary-cap room for the Sharks.
The 32-year-old Rivet had said he hoped to stay in San Jose, praising the freedom and camaraderie he felt in California after a decade under the microscope of unforgiving fans and media in Montreal. Sharks general manager Doug Wilson also praised Rivet's physical play and shot-blocking.
"When we acquire a player, we do a lot of due diligence," Wilson said. "We were thinking he would be a stabilizing influence and a veteran player for us for a long time."
Though the Sharks value Rivet's skills, he'll also be a valuable mentor to young defensemen Matt Carle, Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Christian Ehrhoff, who all played major roles for San Jose last season while the club reached the second round of the playoffs.
"They're pretty mature guys for their age," Rivet said. "These guys push me, too. I'm going to be here to push them and try to make them better. I hope that I can help them out in any situation that they need help in, and I hope they do the same thing for me."
Rivet plans to start house-hunting in Silicon Valley next week with his wife and 5-year-old daughter, who will start school in the fall.
The Sharks have three other unrestricted free agents: defenseman Scott Hannan and forwards Bill Guerin and Mark Smith. Hannan, who has spent his entire career in San Jose, is among the top free-agent defensemen on the market.