Vancouver Canucks officially announce signing of defenceman Kevin Bieksa

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The Hockey News

The Hockey News

VANCOUVER - Canucks defenceman Kevin Bieksa is now in the hunt for a permanent residence in Vancouver after being forced from his rental property during the playoffs.

Bieksa signed a US$23-million, five-year contract extension Tuesday that will see the former fifth-round selection (151 overall, 2001) of the Canucks remain in blue and green through the 2015-16 NHL season.

"I'll tell you this: I won't be getting kicked out wherever I am come playoff time next year," Bieksa joked during a conference call.

"We had a lease expire and then we had a verbal commitment to stay for the additional month, and then the owner kind of changed his mind last minute and wanted to do renovations so he asked us to leave."

Bieksa, who was set to become an unrestricted free agent on Friday, set a career high plus-32 rating last season to go along with his 22 points in 66 games. The new deal will pay Bieksa $7 million next season, followed by payments of $4.5 million, $5 million, $4 million and $2.5 million.

Many believed Bieksa could have fetched much more on the open market.

"I don't think money was ever a determining factor for me. I think finding a place that I want to be and a place that my family wants to be, on a team that's going to contend every year," said Bieksa.

"There's no team in the league that's more committed to winning than Vancouver and the (team owner) Aquilini's prove that every year.

"Mike Gillis has done a great job. This team wants to win, they're going to do whatever it takes to win and I love the city."

According to Gillis, keeping the defensive pair of Bieksa and Dan Hamhuis together for the foreseeable future played a role in the signing.

"We felt he and Dan were a really solid pair for us," said Gillis. "They have an opportunity now to play together for a long time and we consider those guys key players here so it was very important."

Bieksa is already working on an off-season program to get himself ready for next season. The shorter summer is something the 30-year-old says he can get used to.

"In the past losing in the second round to Chicago, I was home the last week of May already starting my training so I'm a month behind, and everyone's a month behind but it's exciting," he said.

"It's exciting to have a condensed summer because of what we just went through and hopefully next season is a short summer too."

When talking about his plans for the Canucks defence Gillis sounded sure pending unrestricted free agent defenceman Sami Salo would be part of the team's plans in the fall.

"I think Keith Ballard is going to be a good player for us next year," said Gillis. "I think Chris Tanev can step up and play more minutes and have a more active role. Sami Salo we'll have for all of next year, hopefully, not what we just had (27 regular season games in 2010-11.)"

The Canucks' blue-line lost a man Tuesday when the team traded pending free agent Christian Ehrhoff to the New York Islanders for a fourth-round pick in the 2012 draft.

Notes: The Canucks would not confirm the reported signing of Maxim Lapierre to a two-year deal on Tuesday. ... Restricted free agents Mario Bliznak and Lee Sweatt will not be retained by the club, as well as pending unrestricted free agent Rick Rypien. ... When asked about Russian forward Sergei Shirokov (restricted free agent) Gillis said, "We have not relinquished our rights to Sergei Shirokov."


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