Pronger Signs New Contract

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The St. Louis Blues made defenseman Chris Pronger one of the best paid players in the NHL by signing him to a three-year contract worth $29.5 million.

Pronger's deal begins in the 2001-02 season. He will get a $1 million signing bonus and earn $9.5 million per year for each of the three seasons, according to his agent, Pat Morris.

"Without question, it's a great day in the history of the franchise," owner Bill Laurie said.

Pronger, who was NHL's most valuable player last season and won the Norris Trophy for the best defenseman, is in a final season of a contract that pays him $4.675 million annually. He was eligible to become a restricted free agent in July.

Last month Pronger and his agent announced that they would not negotiate during the season. Later Pronger backtracked saying the looming free agency was a distraction to him.

The biggest thing was when playing, I caught myself doing things not conducive to winning," Pronger said. "I want to concentrate on being a great hockey player."

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