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Top NHL Stars Now Skating for New Teams

October 02, 2005|From Associated Press

Quick....What team is Brett Hull on? How about Eric Lindros? Or Paul Kariya? What about Jeremy Roenick?

If you're stumped by the whereabouts of any of these NHL stars, don't worry -- you're not alone.

Unless you checked the lists of transactions every day, especially during the weeks following the end of the lockout, you might not have realized that some of the league's most popular players are skating for new teams this season.

Hull is now a member of Wayne Gretzky's Phoenix Coyotes, Lindros is with Toronto, Kariya is on Nashville, and Roenick is in Los Angeles. And that's just for starters.

As a result of the NHL's new collective bargaining agreement, which includes a $39 million salary cap, teams were forced to part with stars to get their payrolls down. Meanwhile, small-market teams benefited by being on equal ground with large-market clubs in negotiating contracts with top free agents.

"We didn't have the budget to give them," Pittsburgh general manager Craig Patrick said shortly after the lockout was settled in July. "Now we do, and we can pay the going rate."

And so they did. Pittsburgh was among the most active teams in the free-agent market, signing All-Star forwards John LeClair, Ziggy Palffy and defenseman Sergei Gonchar. Forward Mark Recchi also signed with the Penguins in July 2004.

Technically, this is Hull's second year with the Coyotes, because he signed as a free agent in August 2004. But that's easily forgotten, since the lockout prevented him from playing for Phoenix until now.

Lindros rooted for the Maple Leafs while growing up, and is eager to play in Toronto after spending three mostly ineffective seasons with the New York Rangers.

"It's obviously a dream come true. It's an absolute thrill," Lindros said when he signed a one-year deal nearly two months ago.

After nine seasons with Anaheim and one with Colorado, Kariya signed for two years and became perhaps the biggest acquisition in Predators history.

Roenick, acquired in a trade with Philadelphia, brings his high-scoring skills and colorful personality to Los Angeles -- although he missed most of the preseason with a concussion.

"I'm an L.A. kind of guy," Roenick said. "Those who know me will understand that."

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