The reason Andrew Ference knows negotiations on his new contract were smooth is because he was in on them.
Every step of the way.
Ference, the Flames defenceman, yesterday inked a two-year deal with the Flames that will pay him $750,000 US per season.
The haggling was done with him in the office of Flames GM/head coach Darryl Sutter.
"I went in there, sat down and we met eye-to-eye and found we weren't that far apart at all," said Ference, who also had agent Steve Kotlowitz in his corner. "I felt it was important for me to do that, just like it's important to have a GM you can do it with. It was important to me for him to know where my mind was at and thought process was at and it was good to hear from him where he thought I was at."
It's a solid raise for the 26-year-old defenceman, whose qualifying offer -- thanks to the 24% rollback -- was $522,500.
"We looked at guys I could be compared to if I was to go to arbitration, guys my age and what they've accomplished, and there are guys who are first-rounders making in the $1-million range," explained Ference, who lives in Canmore during the off-season. "I didn't want to go to arbitration so we talked about a deal that was fair for the team. I want to stay in Calgary.
"I'm more than happy. I'm pumped."
Having Ference in the fold means the only unsigned d-man expected to be with the big club is restricted free-agent Rhett Warrener, who Sutter is trying to sign to a long-term deal.
Ference, acquired from Pittsburgh for a third-round draft choice in February 2003, collected four goals and 12 assists in 72 games during the 2003-04 season. He added another three helpers and was a plus-five while averaging more than 24 minutes of ice time per game in the playoffs.
TUREK WON'T RETURN: The No.-2 job between the Flames pipes is officially up for grabs. The Flames yesterday announced Roman Turek has indeed decided to retire from the NHL and remain in the Czech Republic
Team president and CEO Ken King had nothing but kind words for the netminder.
"He made a commitment to his country and made a commitment to his family and I can't think of two better reasons for someone to make that kind of decision," King said.
"This didn't come as a big shock or surprise and we wish him well."
Though Turek did activate an option on his contract, which would have been worth $1.14M US this season and $950,000 in 2006-07, his departure costs the team nothing nor does it affect the Flames regarding the salary cap.
Turek, 35, returned to his hometown team Budejovice during the lockout and subsequently signed a two-year deal with the club he helped claim the first-division crown this past season.
He spent three seasons in Calgary, posting a 63-68-20 record with a 2.53 goals-against average and 12 shutouts. His best time with the Flames was early in the 2001-02 season when he opened the season with back-to-back shutout wins over Edmonton and Chicago. However, Miikka Kiprusoff supplanted him as the starter.
A Stanley Cup winner with Dallas and two-time Jennings Trophy winner, Turek also took it upon himself to spearhead a charity drive in Calgary to help disadvantaged youth.
"We're very grateful for that very big man coming in at a very critical time in our history," King said. "We were transitioning from a team that had some obvious struggles to a team that still has a lot of work to do but Roman paid a big part in the process."