Calgary's got vet appeal

ERIC FRANCIS -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 9:11 AM ET

The dawn of the NHL's new era will see the likes of Tony Amonte and Darren McCarty in Calgary Flames uniforms this fall.

With three Stanley Cups, more than 500 goals and close to 2,000 penalty minutes between them, the two well-known veterans will usher in a new era of small-market possibilities when the two unrestricted free agents are officially unveiled as Flames additions at a press conference scheduled for this afternoon.

"This is the new NHL," the 33-year-old McCarty told the Sun hours after signing his name to a two-year pact worth $800,000 annually.

"Everything is so appealing about Calgary -- Darryl Sutter, the team -- and I'm excited about playing in Canada. The whole roster of guys works hard as we saw first hand in Detroit last year."

A 'casualty' of the new CBA, which forced the Red Wings to sever an 11-year relationship with the rugged winger to the tune of $2.1 million US last week, McCarty jumped at the chance to travel west.

So too did Amonte, who also became available thanks to a recent $5.9-million US buyout from the Flyers that gave Sutter a chance to reunite with the perennial 30-goal scorer he once coached in Chicago. Sources confirmed the 14-year veteran of more than 1,000 games and 392 goals signed a two-year deal worth $1.85 million US a season.

Despite the fact both players' new contracts were registered with the league last night, Sutter refused to confirm either signing until late in the evening.

"Our area of focus is left wing and right wing and when I was in Chicago Tony played on the left side," said Sutter of the eight-time 30-goal scorer who celebrated his 35th birthday yesterday with news he'll likely play on the top line with right-winger Jarome Iginla. "He still has legs and the numbers."

Doing well to replace the loss of Martin Gelinas to Florida yesterday, Sutter's addition of Amonte -- a U.S. Olympian and potential 500-goal scorer -- shores up scoring concerns while McCarty adds more toughness to a team that lost Krzysztof Oliwa last summer. Sutter's interest in McCarty is obvious given his work ethic, toughness and success as a role player with endless character that made him a fan favourite in Detroit.

"Anybody that's won a Stanley Cup and has that kind of experience I'm interested in," said Sutter of the 6-ft. 1-in., 220-lb. right-winger who has spent his entire career in Hockeytown where his band, Grinder, and his charitable foundation are well known. "He's a big physical presence and a proven winner."

McCarty said the interest is mutual, despite the fact his ties with Sutter are limited.

"The conversations we've had over the years, you can tell we have a lot of respect for one another," said McCarty, whose best season featured 19 goals and 30 assists, while racking up 126 of his 1,200 career penalty minutes.

"Darryl Sutter hockey is about work ethic and I can bring that. I talked to my ex-wife and kids and we all felt it's very important I go somewhere where I can help a team get to the next level I've been to. I think I can bring leadership too as far as having won three Cups and being around a while playing with so many experienced guys in Detroit."

All told, the duo will cost the Flames $2.65 million this year as opposed to the $5.5 million US they were scheduled to make under the old CBA parameters.

It bucks the trend that has long allowed such decorated players to leave Calgary as opposed to move here.

While Sutter has promised few changes to a team that came one goal shy of the Stanley Cup, the new CBA is already paying dividends for a team that wouldn't dare dream of such additions a year earlier.


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