Belfour TradedCHICAGO (AP) - Ed Belfour ripped his backup, complained about sharing a job that had been his for most of the 1990s, and told the Chicago Blackhawks that it would take a lot of cash to keep him past this season.
So Belfour, one of the best goaltenders in Chicago history, is now with the San Jose Sharks. And Jeff Hackett, his backup the last four seasons, has received a three-year contract extension from the Blackhawks.
Twice a winner of the Vezina Trophy as the NHL's top goalie, Belfour was dealt early Saturday in what Chicago general manager Bob Pulford called ``one of the most difficult trades I've had to make.''
Arriving from San Jose are three players with undistinguished records - goalie Chris Terreri, wing Ulf Dahlen and defenseman Michal Sykora - as well as a conditional 1998 second-round draft pick.
``Eddie's been with us 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,'' Pulford said. ``But this was the best deal we could make.
``With Belfour being a free agent after this season, we had to make the deal now or else we would have gotten nothing. I had a long talk with Eddie, and he was out of our price range.''
The Blackhawks announced the deal at about 2:30 a.m. CST Saturday - after finalizing both the trade and Hackett's contract extension. They had lost 2-1 to Toronto several hours earlier.
Belfour, who has a career record of 201-138-56 and goals-against average of 2.65, instantly becomes the best netminder in San Jose's six-year history.
``We are extremely excited to acquire a goaltender of Belfour's stature, caliber and accomplishments,'' Sharks general manager Dean Lombardi said.
Lombardi now must try to sign the 31-year-old Belfour beyond this season.
Belfour's contract, for $2.75 million in 1996-97, expires this spring. He turned down an extension that would have paid him about $3.3 million annually.
That's a lot of money for a goalie who is 11-15-6 with a 2.69 GAA and .907 save percentage this season, when scoring is down throughout the league.
Since Nov. 30, when he joined Glenn Hall and Tony Esposito as the only Chicago goalies ever to win 200 games, Belfour is 1-7-4.
The slump put Belfour on the bench often. Hackett's GAA (2.23) and save percentage (.924) are far superior to that of Belfour, and coach Craig Hartsburg played Hackett in more than half the games since mid-December.
Belfour reportedly told Hackett last month that he was ``nothing more than a backup,'' and said he didn't want to have anything to do with Hackett on or off the ice.
Belfour wasn't available for comment after the trade, but earlier this month, he said he was disappointed that Hartsburg didn't stick with him despite his struggles.
``I've been through this before. I worked through it and got better,'' said Belfour, who won the 1991 Calder Trophy as top NHL rookie and three Jennings awards for fewest goals allowed. ``It's a trust, a confidence thing - from the coach and everyone around you.''
Belfour was liked a lot by some Blackhawks, less so by others.
Captain Chris Chelios, asked about Belfour as a person, responded only: ``Eddie's a great goaltender.''
But defenseman Eric Weinrich said: ``Eddie's a good friend, a great guy and an unbelievable competitor. We're going to miss him.''
The fans liked Belfour, often chanting ``Ed-die! Ed-die! Ed-die!'' after big saves.
Belfour was the second talented, popular player to be dealt by the Blackhawks in a five-month span. In August, they traded Jeremy Roenick to the Phoenix Coyotes for Alexei Zhamnov, who has been a major disappointment.
``That happens in sports. Wayne Gretzky has been traded two times,'' Blackhawks wing Tony Amonte said. ``It's just sad to see another friend go.''
The players Chicago received don't have histories to suggest they can help turn around a team that took a 17-25-8 record into Saturday night's game at the New York Islanders.
Pulford called Terreri ``a decent goalie,'' Dahlen ``a solid forward,'' and Sykora ``a young guy with potential.''
Not exactly ringing endorsements.
Terreri, 32, is 6-9-3 with a 2.79 GAA this season and has a career 125-139-36 record. Dahlen, 30, has 225 goals and 466 points in 655 games with four teams, including eight goals and 19 points this season. Sykora, 23, was a frequent scratch because the Sharks didn't think he played as tough as a 6-foot-4, 230-pounder should.
Perhaps the best news for the Blackhawks is the six-game road trip they began in New York. They have the NHL's worst home record (8-16-3), but were 9-9-5 on the road going into Saturday.
Their first game back in Chicago is Feb. 13 - against Belfour and the Sharks.
The United Center should be rocking.
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