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Montreal signs forward Tom Kostopoulos to US$1.8-million, two-year deal

"My whole game's based on hard work," the former Los Angeles Kings forward said Wednesday after signing a US$1.8-million, two-year contract as a free agent with the Canadiens. "I try to play physical, play along the boards. I try to do all the little things in the game."

The six-foot, 205-pound Kostopoulos is a third-or fourth-line checking forward who had seven goals and 15 assists in 76 games for the Kings last season.

He was the third - and likely the last - free agent to sign with Montreal after defenceman Roman Hamrlik signed a $22-million, four-year pact and centre Bryan Smolinski signed a $2-million, one-year deal on Monday.

Smolinski and Kostopoulos replace departed free agents Radek Bonk, who signed with Nashville, and Mike Johnson, who has yet to sign with a team.

Both newcomers are right-handed shots, which the Canadiens needed.

Kostopoulos, who earned $600,000 last season, will get $900,000 in each year of his new deal.

The Mississauga, Ont., native was delighted to sign with the Canadiens. He even vowed to brush up on his French, which he studied in an immersion program as a youngster.

"There were a few teams interested, but I was very excited when Montreal came into the picture," he said on a conference call from his home in Oakville, Ont. "Growing up in Toronto, I know the rivalry between the Leafs and the Canadiens.

"I think it's an honour to play for Montreal. It's one of the greatest places to play in the NHL. I love the building and I know the fans are very passionate."

The 28-year-old has 70 points (25-45) in 231 career NHL games with the Kings and Pittsburgh Penguins. He was taken in the seventh round (204th overall) by the Penguins in the 1999 NHL entry draft.



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