Blackhawks-Sharks TradeCHICAGO (AP) - The Eagle has landed in San Jose.
Ed Belfour, a two-time Vezina Trophy winner whose helmet featured a colorful eagle as he tended goal throughout the 1990s for the Chicago Blackhawks, was traded to the Sharks early this morning for three players and a draft pick.
``Eddie's been with us right from the start of his career. I'm not happy with any deal when you trade a player that's been with us so long,'' Blackhawks general manager Bob Pulford said.
``But this was the best deal we could make. With Belfour being a free agent after this season, it was difficult to make a trade. I had a long talk with Eddie and he was out of our price range.''
In return for the 31-year-old goalie, Chicago received goalie Chris Terreri, 32; defenseman Michal Sykora, 23; forward Ulf Dahlen, 30, and a conditional second-round 1998 draft choice.
A tentative deal had been worked out Friday but wasn't finalized until early this morning, hours after Chicago lost 2-1 to Toronto in overtime, and shortly after San Jose fell 3-1 to New Jersey.
One of only three goalies in Blackhawks history to win 200 games and one of 28 in NHL history to post 30 career shutouts, Belfour was unhappy he was splitting playing time with Jeff Hackett. In a heated locker room exchange last month, Belfour told Hackett he was ``nothing more than a backup.''
Belfour, the 1991 Calder Trophy winner as NHL rookie of the year and a three-time winner of the Jennings Trophy for fewest goals allowed, was supposed to start Friday but was scratched at the request of the Sharks. Hackett started in his place.
Hackett, acquired from San Jose in 1993, got a strong vote of confidence from the Blackhawks in the form of a 3-year contract extension. Financial terms weren't disclosed.
``Hackett last year came on and played well,'' Pulford said. ``He's played well again this year. His save percentage (.924) is as good as anybody's.''
With the team struggling - at 17-25-8, Chicago is eight games under .500 for the first time in eight years - Pulford had been looking to pull off some kind of deal.
``The trade makes us a better team up front,'' Pulford said. ``Dahlen is a solid player who'll probably play with (Tony) Amonte and (Alex) Zhamnov. Sykora is a big defenseman, a young guy with great potential. Terreri is a decent goaltender.''
As the Blackhawks played Friday at the United Center, Belfour was with a friend in Chicago and wouldn't come to the telephone to comment. Earlier this month, Belfour was asked if he wanted to stay with the Blackhawks.
``I want to win a Stanley Cup here in Chicago,'' said Belfour, who led the Blackhawks to the 1992 championship round, where they were swept by Pittsburgh. ``That's always been my goal. I love the city and the fans.''
But he won't win a Stanley Cup here, a fact that became apparent to his teammates when they entered the locker room before Friday's game.
``Nothing was said to us, but his equipment was gone and so was the name above his locker,'' defenseman Keith Carney said. ``That was a little bit of a hint.''
Belfour was the second talented, popular player to be dealt by the Blackhawks in a five-month span. In August, they traded center Jeremy Roenick to the Phoenix Coyotes for Zhamnov, who has been a major disappointment.
It is up to the Sharks now to try to sign Belfour for beyond this season.
His contract, paying him $2.75 million in 1995-96, expires this spring and he can be an unrestricted free agent. He turned down an extension that would have paid him about $3.3 million annually.
Belfour is having perhaps his worst season. He's 11-15-6 with a 2.69 goals-against average and is 1-7-4 since the start of December. Though Belfour's career GAA coming into the season was almost identical (2.65), scoring is down considerably in the league and 2.69 ranks him in the middle of the pack. Hackett's GAA is 2.23.
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