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Roenick now a wily Coyote

Hawks deal star center for two players, two picks

BY ANYA LOCKERT

Associated Press Writer

PHOENIX -- The Phoenix Coyotes acquired All-Star center Jeremy Roenick from the Blackhawks on Friday for two players and a first-round pick in 1997.

"We are extremely pleased to acquire Jeremy Roenick," Coyotes general manager John Paddock said. "He's 185 to 190 pounds, and he plays like he's 220 and runs over people. Put that with the skill package he has and the speed he has -- that's why you have a very complete, all-around package."

Chicago, which would have received five first-round draft picks as compensation if the 26-year-old restricted free agent signed with another team, picked up center Alexei Zhamnov and right wing Craig Mills.

"They are obviously happy with it, if not, they wouldn't have done it," Paddock said of the Blackhawks. "The player we gave up, the centerpiece, Alexei, is extremely talented."

Paddock wouldn't say how much Roenick would be paid, but did say that the team plans to sign him as soon as possible. He made $1.4 million last season in the final season of a five-year deal and is reportedly seeking in the neighborhood of $4.5 million a season.

The New York Islanders had earlier talked about acquiring Roenick, but were apparently not prepared to give up the five picks to sign him.

Hawks general manager Bob Pulford said Friday the team got tired of trying to negotiate with Roenick's agent Neil Abbott.

"The situation with Neil Abbott and the Blackhawks got to a situation where we basically had no choice," Pulford said. "I don't think they wanted to make a deal.

"When it came right down to it, you know the Roenick situation wasn't going to work out here. They made up their minds they were going to go somewhere else."

Roenick was at his summer home in Cape Cod, Mass., and did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Earlier this summer, the Coyotes acquired high-scoring forward Mike Gartner from Toronto and signed center Cliff Ronning as a free agent from Vancouver. The Coyotes also re-signed center Craig Janney and added defenseman Brad McCrimmon and goalie Darcy Wakaluk.

"We're doing whatever we can to win right away," Coyotes coach Don Hay said. "It's important we show everyone we are serious about winning the Stanley Cup."

Roenick, a four-time All-Star who had a career-high 53 goals in 1991-92, has been bothered by knee and ankle injuries the last two seasons. He had 32 goals and 35 assists in 66 games last season and 267 goals and 329 assists in eight seasons with the Blackhawks.

The Boston native also racked up 105 penalty minutes last season and has 566 in his career, something Paddock said might help the Coyotes.

Zhamnov, also a restricted free agent, made $970,000 last season when he scored 22 goals with 37 assists in 58 games for the Winnipeg Jets. The Chicago Sun-Times reported the Russian is asking for $2.5 million per year.

"Zhmanov is a very talented player, there is no question about it. He has much talent as anyone in the league," Pulford said. "He doesn't have the physical aspect that Roenick has."

Mills was the Jets' fifth pick in the 1994 entry draft. In the past three seasons with the Belleville Bulls of the Ontario Hockey League, he had 64 goals and 78 assists in 173 games.

The Hawks have also lost left wing Joe Murphy, who signed with St. Louis, and center Bernie Nicholls, who signed with San Jose.

© 1999 - Last Updated: Thursday, March 05, 1998
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