Kings sign Blake

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A big sigh of relief could be heard around Southern California when the Los Angeles Kings announced that the Norris Trophy winner Rob Blake has ended his five-day holdout by signing a three-year contract worth $15.8 million.

The deal makes Blake the highest paid defenseman in the league and is slightly higher than the three-year, $15 million deal that Blake had turned down.

"It would've been tougher to sit out any longer," Blake said. "I've always said I wanted to stay here in L.A. I've missed enough time with injuries, and a contract dispute wasn't in my interest."

The Kings wanted to sign Blake for five years and the deal represents a compromise according to Blake's agent Ron Salcer.

"If we would have waited for a five-year deal, I think this could have been a long, protracted ," Salcer said. "I didn't think that was in anyone's best interest. We wanted to get Rob in."

The Kings' tough guy, left wing Matt Johnson, also ended his five-day holdout by signing a three-year contract. That leaves defenseman Aki Berg and goaltender Jamie Storr the Kings' only unsigned restricted free agents. Berg has gone back to his native Finland and is threatening to play the season in Europe if he doesn't reach an agreement with the Kings.

Blake has spent his entire NHL career with the Kings, the upcoming season being his ninth with the team. Salcer said he thinks the Kings won't let Blake become an unrestricted free agent after this deal is over.

"I feel pretty confident that within the next couple years L.A. will approach us and try to get done until Rob's 34 or 35," Salcer said. "He'd like to be here his whole career."

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