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Senators sign free agent defencemen Smith

The Canadian Press

7/8/2008 4:16:03 PM

OTTAWA - The Ottawa Senators needed a defenceman and they were also looking to add some character. They got both in one signing Tuesday.

Veteran defenceman Jason Smith, a captain in both Philadelphia and Edmonton, signed a US$5.2-million, two-year deal with the Senators.

"I think knowing the guys on the roster and how competitive and what high level they played at, I think you can just add another ingredient to that mix," Smith said on a conference call.

The 14-year NHL veteran was an unrestricted free agent.

"I had offers from other teams but as a family option and an opportunity to move forward, Ottawa was something that was very interesting to me and my family," said Smith, captain of the Flyers last season.

After previous NHL stops in Toronto in Edmonton, Smith also looks forward to playing in Canada again.

"Playing in a Canadian city is special," he said. "There's a lot of emotion and a lot of intensity in the building every night and it's a lot of fun playing in that situation."

The 34-year-old joins a team that's dressing room chemistry was called into question last season and he was asked about his reputation for not being afraid to get into the face of a teammate.

"Whatever you can bring to the team to help the team do well is what you need to do, whether that's yell and scream or sometimes guys just need a pat on the back," said Smith.

"There's different situations," he added. "There's a lot of things needed to be dealt with amongst the players in the dressing room. Every situation is different. I think when a dressing room is functional and the guys are working hard and playing hard, a lot of that stuff keeps itself straightened out and you don't have to really deal with that."

Smith, who will receive $2.6 million in each season, led the Flyers with 204 blocked shots and 142 hits in 77 games last season. He also had 10 points (1-9) and 86 penalty minutes.

The Calgary native has averaged 202 blocked shots per year in each of the last three seasons and, along with Anton Volchenkov (671) and Niclas Havelid (601), Smith (608) is one of only three NHL players to block more than 600 shots since the start of the 2005-06 season.

Smith has 168 points (40-128) and 1,052 penalty minutes in 945 career NHL games with the New Jersey Devils, Toronto Maple Leafs, Edmonton Oilers and Philadelphia.