Fedorov, club call off negotiations

BY HELENE ST. JAMES

FREE PRESS SPORTS WRITER

Negotiations to keep potential unrestricted free agent Sergei Fedorov in a Red Wings uniform have been adjourned until the end of the playoffs.

General manager Ken Holland and Fedorov’s agent, Pat Brisson, decided this week they were too far apart to get anything done by early next week. Holland has a long-standing policy of not negotiating during the playoffs.

“I talked to Pat Brisson, and it doesn’t look like we’re going to get anything done, so we’re just going to wait until the playoffs are over,” Holland said Wednesday.

Fedorov, who earlier in the season rejected a five-year, $50-million offer, said last week he remained hopeful a deal could be worked out before the start of the playoffs. He was unaware that talks had been tabled but shrugged off the news.

“All my focus is on hockey and finishing the season on a good note and see where we end up,” he said. “The other part, Pat and Kenny will take care of it. I’m not concerned — I’m aware of those things, but first things first — hockey and hockey and hockey. I don’t want to be center of attention before playoffs start; I just want to do my job.”

Fedorov, 33, leads the team with 78 points, and needs three goals to reach 400 for his career. He is one of the NHL’s top 10 forwards, but few teams will be able to afford the estimated $10 million-$11 million annual salary he desires. He won’t publicly discuss money issues, but he admitted last week he would like a five- or six-year deal.

Should the Wings play four rounds in the playoffs, Holland would have only a three-week window to sign Fedorov before free agency begins July 1. Holland said he wasn’t concerned.

“I think, from everything that has been told to me, he wants to stay,” Holland said.

http://www.freep.com/sports/redwings/wcorn3_20030403.htm