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Thursday, February 22, 2001
Avs hope Blake puts them over the top

LOS ANGELES – The Colorado Avalanche got what they wanted, one of the NHL's finest players. The Los Angeles Kings got something instead of nothing.



Rob Blake, the hard-hitting, high-scoring defenseman, was dealt by the Kings to Colorado late Wednesday night. Los Angeles, which included center Steve Reinprecht in the deal, acquired right wing Adam Deadmarsh, defenseman Aaron Miller and other considerations from the Avalanche.

The acquisition of Blake, who has 17 goals and 32 assists this season, strengthens a Colorado team that owns a league-best 38-12-9 record.

"Rob Blake is an elite and one-of-a kind defenseman who is in his prime right now," said a delighted Pierre Lacroix, the Avalanche's general manager. "Blake is recognized as a major force in this league and an all-around great defenseman that combines size, skill, toughness and agility."

Lacroix said he first contacted the Kings about Blake in late January.

"It intensified over the last few days. We are very thrilled to announce to our fans in Denver the acquisition of two very talented players," the Avalanche GM said.

The Kings, 25-26-8 and fighting for a playoff spot, were in danger of losing Blake, who can become a free agent after the season, without getting anything in return.

The 31-year-old Blake, the 1998 Norris Trophy winner, asked the Kings for a contract in line with the recent $29.5 million, three-year deal the St. Louis Blues recently gave defenseman Chris Pronger, both the Norris Trophy winner and the league MVP last season.

The Kings first offered Blake a five-year, $40 million deal, then upped that bid last week, but Blake turned them down.

"It was evident to us from very early on Rob was intent on free agency," Kings general manager Dave Taylor said. "Last week, we added to our proposals in an attempt to bridge the gap, but we were unsuccessful."

Kings president Tim Leiweke had said he believed a trade would be to the team's benefit, so more money could be spent on filling holes in their lineup rather than giving one player a big chunk of the payroll.

Taylor was pleased with the deal with Colorado, which also gave up its first choice in the 2001 NHL entry draft, a prospect to be determined later and future considerations.

"We were able to obtain two players who can step into our lineup now and have a definite impact," Taylor said. "Aaron Miller is a strong, gritty defenseman who will help provide us with the defensive stability we need, and Deadmarsh provides us with a unique combination of toughness, grit and offensive ability that our club has been seeking."

It is the third straight season that Lacroix has been able to add a big-name player close to the trade deadline, which is March 13.

In 1999, he acquired free agent Theo Fleury from Calgary. But Fleury played only 15 regular-season games with the Avalanche before leaving for the New York Rangers. Last year, Lacroix beat out the Philadelphia Flyers for another top defenseman, Ray Bourque, who was traded by Boston after 21-plus seasons with the Bruins.

"I might sound like an old tape recorder because I have said this for the third year in a row that the same question has come up," Lacroix said. "I think we as an organization will be very consistent with this, just as with the Theo Fleury trade and the Ray Bourque trade that our intention is to have the best season possible with this club.

"The ultimate goal is the goal at the end of the year, and the way this season will end is what will dictate what we do with our contract situations."

A powerful 6-foot-4, 227-pounder, Blake was a Kings mainstay since he came into the NHL in 1990 after Los Angeles drafted him in the fourth round in 1988. He later became a team captain.

In 662 regular-season games during his 12 years with the Kings, he had 138 goals and 291 assists.

Deadmarsh, a first-round pick in the 1993 draft, played a major role in Colorado since helping the Avalanche win the Stanley Cup in 1996, but he has been slowed by injuries this season.

A physical forward, Deadmarsh missed 14 games after receiving a concussion during a fight with Vancouver defenseman Ed Jovanowski on Nov. 1. He was sidelined another six games because of a knee injury on Jan. 18.

Deadmarsh, 25, has 13 goals and 13 assists this season. He has scored at least 20 goals in four of his previous six NHL seasons.

Miller, 29, has four goals and nine assists, with 29 penalty minutes in 56 games.

Reinprecht, 24, has played in 59 games for Los Angeles this season and has 12 goals and 17 assists.

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User feedback: What's your take on the Blake trade?

 Kings head coach Andy Murray didn't want to lose Rob Blake, but is happy with the trade.
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 Kings head coach Andy Murray sees Rob Blake as the top defenseman in the NHL.
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 ESPN's Al Morganti likes the addition of Rob Blake in Colorado.
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