Detroit signed forward Johan Franzen to an 11-year, $43.5 million deal Saturday, keeping him off the free agent market and retaining talent that helped the Red Wings win the Stanley Cup.

The contract averages $3.95 million per season. The team said the deal for Franzen, known as Mule, is the second-longest in team history.

The Red Wings also kept forward Henrik Zetterberg off the market with a 12-year deal in January. They are hoping to do the same with forward Marian Hossa before he becomes a free agent this summer.

Etc.

• Rumors that the Montreal Canadiens would be sold by their owner, George Gillett, flew again last week when it was disclosed that at least 10 individuals or groups had signed confidentiality agreements allowing them to examine the club's financial records.

• In what might be his final NHL appearance, Toronto goaltender Curtis Joseph was credited with a loss Wednesday against Buffalo, his 352nd stretching over 19 seasons. That tied the league's career defeats mark set by former Minnesota North Star Gump Worsley. Joseph, 41, has also won 454 games.

NEWS SERVICES