Ehrhoff gets 10-year deal

(QMI Agency files)

(QMI Agency files)

LANCE HORNBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:55 PM ET

For the Buffalo Sabres, it was the Christian thing to do.

But they've made some enemies around the NHL, at least among cost-conscious general managers and league execs with a $40 million US, 10-year deal for defenceman Christian Ehrhoff. With TSN reporting that a crafty combo of base salary and signing bonus will take up $18 million US in the first two years, the Sabres have one of the most desired defenceman of a lean free agent class, joining newcomer Robyn Regehr on the blue line.

And with new owner Terry Pegula authorizing the once miserly Darcy Regier to keep spending, many expect the Sabres will use as much of their remaining $10 million as possible to at least get a bid in on Brad Richards' bidding when the real shopping starts at noon Friday. Richards might decide the not-so-meek Sabres and a tolerable level of fan and media pressure might suit him best.

"So far, we still have (cap) room," a very happy Regier told The Buffalo News after Thursday night's deal was complete. "There are a few roles up front that we'd like to address if we can."

The Sabres don't yet have the forwards to match division rival and Stanley Cup champion Boston, but it's a different story on their own side of centre.

They have Ryan Miller in goal to at least challenge Tim Thomas, while Ehrhoff and Regehr join a blue line crew that already features big Tyler Myers. It compensates for the loss of Steve Montador to the Blackhawks earlier in the day. Montador did well, getting $11 million for four years in Chicago.

Ehrhoff said he was impressed when Regehr waived his no-trade this week to come to the Sabres.

Ehrhoff's negotiating rights went from Vancouver to Long Island to Western New York in a speedy exchange of fourth-round picks between the three clubs. The Islanders were believed to have offered around six years at $33 million. Ehrhoff had a career-best 50 points for the Canucks last year and lots of exposure in a long playoff run.

Buffalo may also have the distinction of the most varied birth certificates on any NHL blue line. They include Recife, Brazil (Regehr), Moers, West Germany (Ehrhoff), Houston, Texas (Myers), Golden Valley, Minn., (Jordan Leopold) and Bojnice, Czech Republic (Andrej Sekera).

Still picky about Pitt

Almost 10 years to the day the cash-strapped Penguins put Jaromir Jagr on a plane to Washington, the club was aching to see his landing lights at Pittsburgh International.

It was hoped that he'd make up his mind on a one-year $2 million offer by Thursday night and put the contending teams out of their misery. Those were dashed when a late-day phone call with general manager Ray Shero and agent Petr Svoboda only informed the Pens they "are very much in the mix", according to the Tribune Review.

"(Svoboda) doesn't want to force him into a decision," Shero said, no doubt frustrated the 39-year-old is dragging this out until Friday.

Detroit and Montreal are the other two possibilities, but Jagr has conceded he has strong ties to his first NHL home.

The first marriage ended in early July of 2001. Jagr was sniping with coach Ivan Hlinka and not getting along with Mario Lemieux after the latter's comeback threatened Jagr's status and squeezed their small-market payroll. The Pens dealt him and Frantisek Kucera to the Caps for Kris Beech, Michal Sivek and Ross Lupaschuk. But Jagr enjoyed only one more 100-point season after Pittsburgh, after ending up with the New York Rangers.

Harried media in Pittsburgh were trying to nail down Jagr's return all this week. The Tribune Review covered the airport Wednesday when tipped off Jagr was connecting from New York. The paper did find lots of Pens' fans waiting at the gate, but Jagr's original flight from Europe was likely among those delayed by turtles camping on the runway at JFK.

If Jagr returns and Sidney Crosby clears the cobwebs to play next year, it would be one of the rare times the past 50 years that Hart Trophy winners were on the same team. That included Jagr's first spin with Lemieux, Jose Theodore and Joe Sakic in Colorado and later with Alex Ovechkin in Washington. Peter Forsberg won the Hart in Colorado in 2003, with '01 winner Sakic. Brett Hull welcomed Wayne Gretzky to the Blues in 1996, but the union lasted just 31 games.

Prior to that, it was all Original Six clubs with double dippers, Bobby Orr and Phil Esposito, Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita, Jacques Plante and Jean Beliveau and Beliveau, Plante and Bernie Geoffrion.

Ice Chips

Anaheim's Teemu Selanne told Sports Blog Nation that he had a minor surgical procedure on his knee in Finland in the past few days and is waiting to see the results before committing to a 19th NHL season at age 41...The Devils will not name their new head coach until Tuesday at the earliest ... Forsberg is to have his No. 21 retired by the Avs ... TSN reported Thursday that goalie Ben Scrivens signed a one-year deal with the Leafs that will likely see him challenge for the No. 1 job with the AHL Marlies.


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