The Detroit Red Wings and goalie Jimmy Howard, an Ogdensburg native, agreed to a $31.8 million, six-year contract Tuesday, keeping him off the market as a free agent this summer.
The 29-year-old Howard is in his fourth season as the Red Wings top goalie.
Were extremely pleased to have Jimmy under contract for the next six seasons, general manager Ken Holland said. Hes entering the prime of his career and over the last four years has gained a tremendous amount of regular season and postseason experience.
The finalization of the contract left Howard with deep feelings of security and confidence.
It feels really good to know that I will be staying with the organization, which drafted me at 18, for years to come, said Howard on Tuesday night shortly after Detroit arrived in Calgary, Alb. for a game with Flames tonight.
The Red Wings organization brought me up to who I am today. Not only as a player but as a person. There are always unknowns, its part of the job and it is just great for my family and I to have stability.
The quality of his play and his character manifested itself from the onset of his professional career.
Howard was drafted by Detroit in the second round in 2003. In 2009-10, he went 37-15-10 with a 2.26 GAA, becoming the fourth goalie in team history to win at least 30 games as a rookie.
He went on to become the first Detroit goalie to win at least 35 games in each of his first three full seasons.
Hes developed into a top-tier NHL goaltender and is a very important part of our team moving forward, Holland said. Jimmy is one of our leaders and we look forward to watching him elevate his game to the next level in a Red Wings sweater.
For the Howard his goal to reach the ultimate level, backstopping the Red Wings to the Stanley Cup and defenses of the Stanley Cup.
I definitely dont think I have peaked. My best is still to come and I go out everyday to work hard to get better said Howard.
For our organization the Stanley Cup is our sole purpose every year. For me personally I go out everyday and lead by example. We have plenty of guys who stand up in the locker room and do the talking.
Howard is 17-12-6 with a 2.31 goals-against average and a .920 save percentage this season. Detroit is in a wild race for the final playoff spots in the Western Conference, hoping to extend their postseason streak to 22 years.
After Mondays games, Detroit was tied for eighth in the West with Columbus, although the Red Wings have played one fewer game. Dallas was two points behind the Red Wings and the Blue Jackets, with Phoenix another two back.
Howard preferred to look up in the standings where the Wings stood just one point behind St. Louis, two behind Minnesota and within four points of fifth place San Jose.
It can drive you nuts but its great for the sport to have so many teams fighting for playoff spots, said Howard.
We have six games left and we have the guys who can make a run. We just have to go out every night play as hard as we can to get two points.
NOTES: Howard said he is also looking forward to the future when realignment places Detroit in the Eastern Conference starting next season. In the East we will be playing regularly in Toronto, Montreal, Buffalo and Ottawa which makes its much easier for family and friends to attend games, he said.
Like so many other professional athletes he offered his support to the victims of the bombings at the Boston Marathon and their families. What happened was so awful, your heart just goes out to the those people.