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Chicago Blackhawks sign Brent Sopel to $7-million, three-year extension

CHICAGO - The Chicago Blackhawks have signed defenceman Brent Sopel to a US$7-million, three-year contract extension.

Sopel, 31, signed a $1.36 million, one-year deal last September and was slated for unrestricted free agency on July 1. His new deal will pay him $2.5 million next season, $2.5 million in 2009-10 and $2 million in 2010-11.

"He's been a real steady inflence on our young defencemen," Hawks GM Dale Tallon told The Canadian Press on Thursday. "His composure and his willingness to help the young guys, that's been real important. He likes the direction we're headed in.

"He's played very well for us," added Tallon. "We're very young back there on the blue-line and we need a guy like him to slow things down."

Sopel has 10 assists and a plus-10 rating in 33 games this season.

The Hawks are also in talks to extend Patrick Sharp. The forward, earning $825,000 this season, is slated for restricted free agency this summer.

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