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Friday, July 1, 2011
Blackhawks sign five veterans

By Jesse Rogers
ESPNChicago.com

The Chicago Blackhawks made a splash on the first day of free agency, signing five players, while living up to offseason promises of getting bigger and finding more grit.

In the process the Hawks got older as well.

Wingers Jamal Mayers, 36, and Andrew Brunette, 37, along with defenseman Sean O'Donnell, 39, and center Brett McLean, 32, all agreed to one year deals Friday. Dan Carcillo, 26, is the youngest player the Hawks signed Friday, also agreeing to a one-year deal.

Mayers and O'Donnell, in particular, provide size and toughness the Hawks admit they were lacking last season after breaking up their championship roster in a salary-cap purge last summer. Mayers has been involved in 106 career fights while O'Donnell provides the size (6-foot-3, 234 pounds) the Hawks have been missing on the blue line.

"I'm very excited to be back with [coach] Joel [Quenneville]. I played with him when I started my career," Mayers said. "He's obviously very familiar with what I bring to the table. I know what I'm expected to bring. I'm looking forward to it."

Brunette is a consistent scorer who can play on any of the top three lines. He's scored between 15 and 27 goals in each of the past 11 seasons. He's durable, having played in 80 games or more in nine consecutive seasons. O'Donnell has missed just 12 games since the 2005-06 season.

"They probably have the best young core of hockey players in the NHL and at this stage in my career I just want an opportunity to have a chance to win a Stanley Cup," Brunette said. "I felt this was as good as any club out there. The city obviously appeals to a lot of guys in the NHL, myself included. I just thought it would be a good fit."

McLean is a former Hawk (2002-04) and played the past two seasons in the Swiss League. He provides depth at the center position but isn't considered a front-line player.

Carcillo spent the 2010-11 season with the Flyers, collecting six points and 127 penalty minutes. He was originally selected by the Penguins in the third round of the 2003 draft.

"It took me a couple years [because] it's a fine line to walk," Carcillo said of being an agitator. "You don't want to hurt the team when you're playing like that. I think over the years I've gotten a lot better with it. My game is just getting in on the forecheck and being physical and playing with that emotion."

Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman was pleased with Friday's signings.

"We had a very successful day," he said. "I'm very pleased with how it all played out. This was our objective to find some players that play a certain style, also bring some experience. I think it's a nice mixture."

Adding to the attempt to get tougher, the Hawks signed defenseman Steve Montador to a four-year deal earlier in the week.

Jesse Rogers covers the Blackhawks for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN 1000.