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Sharks sign veteran defenseman Rob Blake

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SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) -Veteran defenseman Rob Blake signed a one-year, $5 million contract with the San Jose Sharks on Friday, leaving Pacific Division rival Los Angeles for a more immediate chance at a championship.

Blake spent 13 1/2 of his 18 NHL seasons with Los Angeles, including the past two campaigns. He leaves the losing Kings for the division champion Sharks, whose defensive shortcomings played a role in their playoff struggles over the past few years.

The 38-year-old Blake is a seven-time All-Star and one of the NHL's most respected veteran defensemen. He has 702 career points, tied for fourth among active players at his position, and a Stanley Cup championship from his time with the Colorado Avalanche in 2001.

Blake, who won the Norris Trophy in 1998, has been remarkably durable late in his career, playing at least 71 games in every season since 2001. He's also a three-time Canadian Olympian, teaming with Sharks star Joe Thornton.

"I've gotten to play with Rob at several international tournaments, and we've built a friendship over the years," Thornton said. "He'll fit right into our group, and more importantly will help us win."

The signing is San Jose's first move on the summer free agent market. The Sharks lost defenseman Brian Campbell this week to the Chicago Blackhawks, who lavished San Jose's late-season trade acquisition with an eight-year contract worth nearly $57 million.

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