- Associated Press - Monday, August 2, 2010

CHICAGO (AP) - For Marty Turco, the bottom line is to play for a Stanley Cup contender.

By agreeing to a one-year deal with the Chicago Blackhawks on Monday, the veteran goaltender made that clear.

Turco, who will replace Stanley Cup hero Antti Niemi as the Blackhawks’ top goalie, could have earned more money and gotten a longer contract elsewhere, according to his agent, Kurt Overhardt. The deal is believed to be worth $1.3 million.

“We spoke to four different teams and turned down different opportunities and amounts,” Overhardt said. “He turned down teams with higher considerations and longer terms …

Marty’s priority was joining as team that could win a Stanley Cup, and he chose Chicago.”

Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman said the team expects “immediate” contributions from the 34-year-old Turco, who has played all nine of his NHL seasons with Dallas. The three-time All Star has never advanced past the conference finals in six playoff appearances with the Stars.

“Part of the reason for going there (Chicago) is now you’re on a team that has a chance to win every night and won a Stanley Cup last season,” Turco said.

The 26-year-old Niemi helped the Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup this past season after earning $826,875 as a rookie. He was awarded a $2.75 million salary for next season by an arbitrator last week, putting the Blackhawks in a tough spot.

Bowman declined to say whether the team could have squeezed Niemi’s award under the NHL’s salary cap, set at $59.4 million next season.

“The salary cap has been talked about too much,” Bowman said.

However, Bowman said he made several attempts to sign Niemi to a multiyear contract before the goalie’s case went to arbitration.

“We exhausted all of our options to make this work,” Bowman said. “This is the direction that made the most sense. You have to have flexibility within your roster and this was the best way to defend the Cup.”

Niemi, a Finn who signed with the Blackhawks in May 2008, becomes an unrestricted free agent. He played all but one period of the Blackhawks postseason run to the championship, going 16-6 with a 2.63 goals-against average, .910 save percentage and two shutouts.

Niemi is the eighth player to leave the Blackhawks since the team won its first Stanley Cup in 49 years, joining Andrew Ladd, Ben Eager, Dustin Byfuglien, Brent Sopel, Adam Burish, Colin Fraser and Kris Versteeg. John Madden, a 37-year-old unrestricted free agent, has yet to sign with a team.

Niemi’s agent, Bill Zito, said his client was disappointed by the Blackhawks’ decision.

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