Free-agent wing Hinote signs with Blues

ST. LOUIS -- Dan Hinote signed with St. Louis on Monday after spending his entire NHL career with Colorado, another step in the makeover of the Blues following a season in which they had the league's worst record.

Hinote, a free agent, signed a three-year deal that will pay him $1 million for each season. The 29-year-old right wing will be entering his seventh season and was part of the Avalanche team that won the Stanley Cup in 2001.

"Dan is a character player who brings speed and grit to our team," Blues president John Davidson said. "He's a Stanley Cup champion who should instantly become a fan favorite."

In 353 games, Hinote has 27 goals, 38 assists and 254 penalty minutes. He was drafted by Colorado in 1996.

After 25 straight playoff appearances, the Blues had just 57 points last season. Owners Bill and Nancy Laurie slashed payroll and traded such stars such as Chris Pronger and Doug Weight to make the team more attractive for a sale.

In the last few weeks, the rebuilding has begun, starting with the June 24 selection of 18-year-old defenseman Erik Johnson with the first overall pick in the draft. Weight was re-signed over the weekend, and the Blues gave Bill Guerin a one-year deal late Monday night.

On Friday, the sale of the team to a group led by Dave Checketts was completed, and the new owners immediately introduced Davidson as team president. He had been a top TV analyst for NHL games and was a longtime goalie.

On Saturday, the Blues signed veteran defenseman Jay McKee to a four-year, $16 million contract, and re-signed 37-year-old captain Dallas Drake.

And on Sunday, the Blues brought back Weight with a two-year, $7 million deal and said coach Mike Kitchen will return this season. Weight was traded six months ago to Carolina, where he helped lead the Hurricanes to the Stanley Cup title.