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Canadiens give new one-year contract to veteran winger Mathieu Darche

MONTREAL - Playing for his 13th pro team since the 2000-01 season, 33-year-old Mathieu Darche has finally landing a one-way contract in the NHL.

Darche opted to forego unrestricted free agency to sign a one-year contract with the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday.

The $500,000 deal, one-way deal guarantees that Darche he will not be paid less if he is sent to the minors.

''I've been changing teams the last seven or eight years so it's nice to come back to the same team and same organization and not having to wait for July 1,'' the Montreal native said. ''From the day the season ended my first choice was to stay in Montreal and I got my wish.''

The six-foot-one, 210-pound winger had five goals and five assists in 29 games for the Canadiens. He was called up on Jan. 19 from the Hamilton Bulldogs of the AHL for what was thought to be a short stay and ended up with the NHL squad for the rest of the season and the playoffs.

Darche has played only one full NHL season—in 2007-08 with the Tampa Bay Lightning. The rest of his career he has been up and down from the minors. He had previous brief stints with the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Nashville Predators.

''If you stick with it, good things end up happening,'' he said. ''By the time I got here, the team was struggling. I had a few good games and the timing was that the team started winning.

''So it was right place at the right time and I was able to take advantage of it. But I still have to come to training camp and earn my spot. That's not going to change.''

Darche has 13 goals and 21 assists in 130 career NHL games. He signed with the Canadiens as a free agent on July 2, 2009.

The signing of the popular Darche comes on the heels of the widely panned trade last week of goaltender Jaroslav Halak to the St. Louis Blues for prospects Lars Eller and Ian Schultz.

The Canadiens also announced that defenceman Marc-Andre Bergeron will undergo surgery on Wednesday to repair the a ligament in his right knee. Bergeron, who can become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, injured his ACL during the playoffs but was able to play through it. It was unknown how long he would be out of action.



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