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Panthers Ink Larionov

Center Igor Larionov, who spent five seasons with the Detroit Red Wings and helped them win two Stanley Cups, signed a free-agent contract with the Florida Panthers Saturday.

Larionov, 39, chose the Panthers over the Calgary Flames. He signed a one-year deal worth $1.8 million with a club option for 2001-2002 at $2 million.

Panthers general manager Bryan Murray said Larionov, a 10-year NHL veteran, will center the team's top line, playing with wing Pavel Bure, the league's leading goal scorer.

"We believe that his poise and character, along with what he can add to our younger players in the organization, is well worth bringing him on board," Murray said.

Larionov played 79 games last season for Detroit, with nine goals and 38 assists. He had one goal and two assists in nine playoff games.

In 663 NHL regular season games, Larionov has 138 goals and 369 assists. In 125 playoff games, he has 25 goals and 58 assists.

Larionov won gold medals at the 1984 and 1988 Olympics as the center of the Soviet Union's famed KLM line, playing between wing Vladimir Krutov and Sergei Makarov.

He signed with Vancouver in 1989, spending three years with the Canucks. He played a year in Switzerland before returning to the NHL with the San Jose Sharks, who had selected him in the expansion draft.

He was traded to Detroit early in the 1995-96 season, helping the Red Wings win the 1997 and 1998 Stanley Cups. He had four goals and eight assists in the 1997 playoffs and three goals and 10 assists in the 1998 postseason.

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