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Fedorov Signs Offer to Play for Carolina

Unsigned restricted free agent Sergei Fedorov signed an offer sheet from the Carolina Hurricanes worth $38 million over five years and includes a $26-million signing bonus to be paid over five years. The Detroit Red Wings, who own Fedorov’s rights, have seven days to match the offer. If they choose not to match, they will automatically receive five first-round draft picks as compensation.

“I’m happy to confirm this and I’m very excited,” said Fedorov, who rejected an offer sheet from the New York Islanders last month. “I want to be playing and to get my life back in the NHL.”

Fedorov, who has helped carry the Russian men’s hockey team to the semifinals of the Olympic tournament with a goal and five points in four games, said recently he wants the Red Wings to trade him. He would not say what he will do if the Red Wings match the Carolina offer. “So far I’m still just at the Olympic Games and I’m thinking about that,” he said. “I think when I get there I will cross that bridge. . . . I told Ken Holland [the Red Wings’ general manager] that I can play somewhere else.”

News of the offer sheet spread quickly among the NHL players whose teams are still in contention here.

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“Wow!” Detroit center Steve Yzerman said. “I would assume [the Red Wings] would match it. I don’t doubt they would. . . . That’s a big check to write.”

Wayne Gretzky was also incredulous. “Fedorov got $26 million [as a signing bonus] and Teemu [Selanne] is making $2 million?” Gretzky said of the Mighty Duck right wing, who led the NHL in scoring at the Olympic break. “Teemu had better make a call.”

Selanne asked jokingly, “Where’s the phone?” but said he has no intention of asking to renegotiate his contract, which has two years left at $2.85 million a year. “But it’s always good to hear that some players are getting good contracts. It helps everyone,” he said.

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Canadian and Colorado center Joe Sakic, who sprained his left knee Wednesday in a collision with teammate Rob Blake and a Kazakhstan opponent and will be out at least two weeks, was disappointed to have the tournament end on so sour a note for him.

“It’s very frustrating to come all this way to play for the gold medal and then find out going into the semifinals that you can’t play,” he said. “There’s nothing I can do about it now except support the guys and be a cheerleader.”

Canada Coach Marc Crawford, who is also Sakic’s coach in Colorado, said he hasn’t had time to consider how the injury will affect the Avalanche. “We’ll worry about that after this is over,” he said.

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Although several members of the U.S. men’s hockey team said they considered the Games a waste of time, Gretzky is enjoying himself.

“I’ve had as much fun playing on this team as any team I’ve played on,” he said. “There’s a little less pressure on me because we have so many great players.”


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