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N.Y. Rangers Sign Theo Fleury

Six-time All-Star Theo Fleury, expected to help fill a void created by Wayne Gretzky's retirement, signed Thursday with the New York Rangers as an unrestricted free agent.

The 31-year-old right wing, who played all or part of 11 NHL seasons for the Calgary Flames before being traded to the Colorado Avalanche in March, said he had some contact with Gretzky.

"He pointed out the good things about New York and talked about his experiences of playing in New York," Fleury said during a conference call.

The Rangers announced it was a multiyear contract, but declined to disclose any details. Reportedly, the deal was for at least four years at $8 million to $10 million per year with an option for a fifth year.

Fleury, however, said, "At the end of three years. it will give me a good idea if I can keep playing."

He also said there was a no-trade clause in the contract "because I'm a guy who likes to know where I'm going to be from year to year."

The Avalanche did not want to give Fleury a no-trade deal.

"I have no bitter feelings against Colorado," he said. "I was excited to be in the playoffs."

He had five goals and 12 assists in 18 playoff games for the Avalanche, who were beaten in seven games by Dallas in the Western Conference finals. His numbers for the season were 40 goals and 53 assists in 75 games. He has 374 goals and 480 assists in his regular-season career.

"I'm excited to be a Ranger," Fleury said, adding he was surprised and impressed by a trip to Winnipeg to talk to him by Neil Smith, president and general manager of the Rangers, and Dave Checketts, president and CEO of Madison Square Garden.

"So far they've gone out and improved the team tremendously since last year."

The Rangers, who failed to make the playoffs last season, earlier signed free agents Valeri Kamensky, a left wing for the Avalanche, and Stephane Quintal, a defenseman, who played for the Montreal Canadiens.

©1999 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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