Turco replaces Niemi in Chicago

Marty Turco has reportedly signed a deal with the Chicago Blackhawks to become the team's new...

Marty Turco has reportedly signed a deal with the Chicago Blackhawks to become the team's new starting goaltender. (CHRISTIAN PETERSEN/Getty Images)

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, Last Updated: 12:40 PM ET

CHICAGO - The Chicago Blackhawks have made a decision to let Stanley Cup winning goaltender Antti Niemi become a free agent.

Chicago will walk away from an arbitrator’s decision to award Niemi a reported $2.75 million contract for the 2010-11 season and have instead agreed to a one-year deal with veteran goaltender Marty Turco.

“Marty is the perfect veteran addition to our tremendous core that is already in place as we look to begin our defense of the Stanley Cup,” said Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman in a release. “He is joining us with the intention of adding a Stanley Cup to his lengthy list of accomplishments over the last decade and we are looking forward to his immediate contributions.”

According to the Chicago Tribune, which had reported Niemi’s arbitration award on Saturday, the deal for Turco ranges from $1 million to $1.5 million.

Since winning their first Stanley Cup title since 1961 this past spring, the Blackhawks have been trying to get under the salary cap for the 2010-11 season.

Before the latest move, Chicago had eight players from last season’s roster leave through trade or free agency.

Niemi, who will now become an unrestricted free agent, split time last season with Cristobal Huet and was 26-7-4 with a 2.25 goals-against average, seven shutouts and a .912 save percentage. He then went 16-6 with a 2.63 GAA and two shutouts in the playoffs.

Turco, who turns 35 August on 13, spent the past nine seasons with the Dallas Stars and last year was 22-20-11 with four shutouts and a 2.72 goals-against average in 53 games.

“Joining the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks is an unbelievable opportunity for me both professionally and personally,” said Turco. “The Blackhawks are a first-class organization in a world-class city and at this point in my career I am excited to be a part of a team that will give me such a good chance to win the Stanley Cup.”

In 509 NHL games, all with Dallas, Turco owns a record of 262-154-63 with 40 shutouts and a 2.31 GAA. He is the Stars’ franchise leader in wins, shutouts and games.


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