Jay Harrison was playing professional hockey in Switzerland in the fall of 2008, believing his dream of being an NHL defenseman may had ended.
On Tuesday, the Carolina Hurricanes signed Harrison to a three-year contract extension that will more than double his salary, gives him added security and rewards his hard work and perseverance.
Harrison, 29, will be paid $1.5 million per season beginning with the 2013-2014 season. He has one year remaining on an existing contract, with as $700,000 salary, and was due to become an unrestricted free agent after next season.
The Hurricanes on Tuesday also re-signed forward Zach Boychuk to a one-year, two-way contract. Boychuk, who was a restricted free agent, will receive $625,000 at the NHL level or $105,000 at the American Hockey League level.
Harrison led the Canes' defensemen with nine goals, a career high, and finished with a career-high 23 points in 72 games. He averaged a career-best 20:33 in ice time this past season and was second on the team with 132 blocked shots, an increase of 53 from the 2010-2011 season.
General manager Jim Rutherford noted Harrison has developed into "a consistent, steadying presence" on the Canes' blue line.
After the season in Switzerland in 2008-2009, Harrison returned to North America and soon signed a free-agent contract with the Hurricanes. He bounced back and forth between the NHL and AHL until becoming an NHL regular with Carolina in the 2010-2011 season.
Harrison was the Hurricanes' nominee this past season for the Bill Masterton Trophy, which is given annually to the NHL player who demonstrates perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.
Boychuk, 22, spent most of last season with the Charlotte Checkers, the Canes' AHL affiliate, and led the Checkers with 21 goals. A former first-round draft pick by Carolina, he played 16 games last season for the Canes, notching two assists and averaging 8:55 in ice time per game.