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7/27/2006 1:49:48 PM

The Tampa Bay Lightning have re-signed defenseman Cory Sarich to a one-year, $1.9 million contract. The deal allows the Lightning and Sarich to avoid a salary arbitration hearing scheduled for July 31.

"Once again, Cory Sarich has demonstrated what an outstanding 'team player' he is by electing to settle at a number that worked for the team rather than attempting to hit the home run in arbitration," said Executive Vice President and General Manager Jay Feaster. "Our own attorneys advised us that Cory's award could easily exceed $2 million and in what has been a very overheated arbitration marketplace we had grave concerns about turning the process over to a third party.

"Cory and his agent understood our cap situation and worked with us to get something done that would help us."

Sarich, 27, played in all 82 games for the third consecutive season in 2005-06, recording a goal, 14 assists and 79 penalty minutes.

Since joining the Lightning five seasons ago, he has appeared in 408 regular season games, recording 10 goals, 60 assists and 484 penalty minutes. Sarich played parts of two seasons in Buffalo before joining the Lightning in 1999-00.

Feaster said he would love to lock up Sarich long-term, but the salary cap made that difficult at the present time. The Lightning intend to re-open such negotiations after January 1st, when the CBA permits allows it.

"I have always said that Cory Sarich stands for what this organization is all about - character, dedication, commitment, team-first loyalty, and a commitment to doing the right things for the right reasons," said Feaster. "Cory has once again shown not only his value and importance to our team but also his overall commitment to his teammates, our organization and our fans."
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